Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale has taken a leave of absence to deal with a family matter.
The team announced the move on Saturday and says assistant coach Kelvin Sampson will be in charge while McHale is out.
There is no timetable for the return of the second-year coach and Hall of Fame player.
For those of you that followed OU Basketball in the late 90s and early 2000s, this is kind of huge news. Kelvin Sampson was a really solid college coach before he got caught up in recruiting scandals relating to his love of the telephone. He led OU to a Final Four appearance in 2002, an Elite Eight appearance in 2003, and a Sweet 16 appearance in 1999. This goes along with 11 NCAA Tournament appearances in 12 years, 3 Big XII tournament championships, and 1 Big XII regular season championship.
So, to say Kelvin Sampson is a well-remembered guy around here would be an understatement. To see him coach the Rockets, nay, the James Harden Rockets, against the Thunder on November 28th would be totally insane. Given the Rockets' red uniforms, some people might forget what they're watching and start chanting "Eat 'em up, Eat 'em up, go OU!" and wonder where the in-arena Starbucks is. The Rockets' red unis are also good for Sampson's tie situation, as he pretty much wore nothing but red ties during his tenures as head coach of Washington State, Oklahoma, and Indiana.
Regardless, this scenario hinges on how long it takes Kevin McHale to come back from his family situation, and I'm sure we're all hoping that things turn out alright for him. But the possibility of Kelvin Sampson coaching a game in OKC was enough for me to write his article.
On another note, Kelvin Sampson may be the first full-blooded Native American to coach an NBA basketball game, but I'm not totally sure on that one. If so, that's a pretty cool thing too.