On Sunday, Feb. 9th, the Detroit Pistons announced their dismissal of head coach Maurice Cheeks. In his absence, management chose to leave assistant coach John Loyer in charge of the team.
Loyer is in his third season with the Pistons. Before coming to the Motor City, Loyer spent two seasons with the New Jersey Nets as assistant coach under Lawrence Frank. In his first season as assistant coach in New Jersey, the Nets finished dead last in the league with a final record of 12-70. His second year was slightly more promising with a 12th place finish in the Eastern Conference.
Still though, these are not the records that a budding franchise would hope for in its new interim head coach. Loyer has spent much of his career under Cheeks. The pair spent two seasons together in Portland with the Trailblazers in the 2003 and 2004 seasons. They then went on to coach together for three more seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers.
After Philadelphia let him go, Cheeks went to Oklahoma City where he enjoyed success as an assistant coach and Loyer went to New Jersey. As a team, Loyer and Cheeks have led their teams to two missed playoff seasons in Portland and one playoff appearance in Philadelphia with a losing record.
Fans hoped that reuniting Loyer with Cheeks could turn around both of their luck together as well as the franchise’s luck in recent years. The time was not right for the pair. It took owner Tom Gores, general manager Joe Dumars and everyone else involved in the decision half a season to figure that out.
Now Loyer has another half of a season to prove his worth in Detroit with a playoff berth the ultimate goal.
Colin Jackson is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.