“Terrific leader and mentor.”
“Absolute star as a person, player and coach.”
Those are two of Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra’s comments about Juwan Howard after Howard accepted Michigan’s head coaching job.
A year removed from those comments, a year as the head man for Michigan hoops, Howard’s ability to lead, coaching chops, and NBA connections as a player and coach are just some of the reasons that Howard would be coveted by an NBA team. A reminder of that fact occurred on Monday when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Howard’s name was “gaining traction” within front offices as a potential coaching candidate.
Howard did as good of a job as he possibly could letting it be known he isn’t interested in the NBA. Howard released a statement within two hours of the report surfacing. “While I am flattered, and know it will more than likely happen again, I am not exploring seeking or listening,” Howard said.
Howard realizes this likely won’t be the last time his name is tied to NBA coaching vacancies, and he’ll probably have to address those rumors yet again, be it this year or in 2021.
While Howard said he’s flattered by his name being floated around, it still creates a climate where he has to get in front of the story before his players, recruits, and fans start to panic and wonder if there’s any truth to the reports.
Michigan fans know far too well about a head coach being connected to pro opportunities every single year. Football head coach Jim Harbaugh’s name gets floated around for potential NFL openings annually, and Harbaugh knocks them down with a statement but has to do it all again a year later.
“One of my favorite people I’ve ever met,” Lebron James said about Howard in 2019. When all-time greats like James think this highly of him as a person and coach, the NBA is going to keep knocking even when Howard doesn’t want to open the door.
Howard came to Michigan to accomplish something, not to jump on the first NBA opportunity that comes his way. His son will be playing for Michigan next season. Jace Howard will be wearing the same number as his father did for Michigan, No. 25. “I am blessed to be working at the greatest university in the world. I am blessed to be guiding a group of wonderful young men,” Howard said. “We have goals, dreams & championships to win. This is where my focus is.”