NORMAN Black has been around for over four decades as import, playing coach, and head coach, both in the PBA and the UAAP college league.
So when he talks, better listen.
Days after Tab Baldwin got entangled in a web of controversy over comments he made in a Coaches Unfiltered podcast about the PBA, its officials, imports, and coaches, Black offered advice drawn from his years of experience in the country, in case Ateneo's American-New Zealander coach cares to listen.
"One thing I’ve learned over the course of my career in the Philippines is no matter how successful you are, it’s always good to remain humble. More so when you are the guest in a country," Black, owner of 11 championships as coach and two more as an import, told SPIN.ph on Monday.
"My experience has been that Filipinos will always recognize and respect you if you are good at your job, but they will not tolerate or appreciate it if you are throwing your talent in their faces in a demeaning way," Black added.
Baldwin hit a raw nerve among PBA officials and coaches in an online interview when he, among other things, branded the league's single-import format as a 'big mistake' and its coaches as 'tactically immature' and claimed that imports are given a 'rules latitude' by the officials themselves.
The veteran internationalist, concurrently the project director of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) tasked to oversee the formation and preparation of the Gilas Pilipinas team to the 2023 Fiba World Cup, has yet to speak since his comments touched off an uproar from officials and coaches.
Black, who won five straight UAAP championships with Ateneo, said there is no doubt about Baldwin's coaching prowess. But the current Meralco coach admitted he found some of the latter's comments 'out of line' and the delivery 'flawed.'
"I have worked with Coach Tab and I know he is a very good basketball coach, but my personal feeling is that some of his recent comments were definitely out of line," he said. "While everyone's opinion should be respected, it’s also important that the persons expressing their opinion should be respectful how they relay their message.
"What’s the sense of having sound ideas if they fall on deaf ears because your delivery is flawed. I say this because Coach Tab is employed by people who have a say on how the PBA, FIBA and SBP are run. He has an avenue to talk to the decision makers directly and that probably would have and should have been a better venue for him to express his sentiments."
Black also touched on Baldwin's claim that PBA imports stand out because they are given 'regulatory advantages by the referees.'
"I know for a fact ( because I was one) that the majority of imports who arrive to play in the PBA all have had some success playing in other countries around the world (starting in the USA)," he said. "They did not just become stars when they arrived in the Philippines. A simple fact check will verify this.
"If the imports numbers are bigger here, it’s because they play almost the entire game, something they don’t do in other places. So why demean their talent, it doesn’t make sense," the former Detroit Pistons player said.
Understandably, Black also has a strong opinion on Baldwin's critique of local coaches — a group Black considers himself as a part of.
"As for the local coaches which I am one, we are always looking to improve our craft and become better coaches. We are no different from NBA and European coaches in that we want to learn and improve our skills at all times," he said.
"I’m not sure if Coach Tab would accept any advise from me, especially since we are of the same age, but it’s important that we uplift the coaching community here in our country. Even if one may have a tactical advantage in knowledge over others, we should be humble in how we spread our message so others will remain open minded to what we have to say."