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Timberwolves’ Rick Adelman retiring after 23 years

April 21, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman has decided to retire after 23 seasons in the NBA.

Adelman made the announcement on Monday, five days after the Wolves wrapped up a disappointing 40-42 season.

The decision brings to an end a celebrated coaching career that includes 1,042 victories, eighth on the NBA’s career list. He coached Western Conference powers in Portland and Sacramento and also had stops in Golden State and Houston.

Adelman said the time was right for him to step aside and spend more time with his wife, Mary Kay, who has been treated for seizures over the last two years. He also thinks the Wolves need a fresh voice to help them try to persuade star power forward Kevin Love to remain in Minnesota.

“It was kind of a gradual thing that just kept coming,” Adelman said of his decision-making process. “And looking for the whole organization, it’s best that maybe a new voice at the coaching position would be best right now.”

Adelman just completed the third season of a four-year deal with Minnesota that he signed in 2011. There was a mutual option for the final year of the deal.

After missing the playoffs for the third straight season, Adelman decided it was time to walk away from one of the most quietly influential coaching careers in NBA history. The introverted coach worked below the radar for most of his career, but his impact on the league was unquestioned.

“Every coach in this league has taken some of his concepts,” Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “You can see every team has part of his corner series as part of their offense.”

Adelman won at least 50 games in a season 11 times in his career, helped turnaround the Portland Trail Blazers in the late 1980s and then built a power in Sacramento 10 years later. He had more modest success with Houston and Minnesota, but walks away with his fingerprints all over the league.

“He’s been in several different programs, made them all better, done a heck of a job wherever he’s gone, has always been underrated and has been a guy that players have really enjoyed playing for,” San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

“I’ve stolen from him, very honestly.”

While with Sacramento, Adelman worked with assistant and former Princeton coach Pete Carril to fine-tune his famed “corner” offense, a precision system that maximized the talents of big men Chris Webber, Vlade Divac and Brad Miller, all of whom were gifted passers from the elbow of the lane.

“A lot of people have run the elbow action, but no one’s run it like him,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “We copied (one of his plays) and won a game with it in Boston and called it Adelman. It was great.”

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra caught the coaching bug while watching Adelman’s Portland teams when he was a point guard at the University of Portland.

“In terms of the impact he’s had on the league, you just check out everybody’s playbook,” Spoelstra said “Everybody has at least some version or piece of his offense in their playbook. And most teams call it Sacramento. He was and has been an incredible innovator in this game.”

Adelman’s career started reluctantly in 1988, when he took over the Trail Blazers after Mike Schuler was fired during the season. The following season, in his first full year as an NBA head coach, Adelman led the Blazers to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Detroit Pistons. He had the Blazers back in the finals in 1992, but they lost to Michael Jordan and the Bulls.

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