Kenny Atkinson played 12 years overseas after leading the University of Richmond to the NCAA Tournament in 1988. He never played in the NBA and worked his way up to become head coach of the Brooklyn Nets as a longtime assistant coach.
Sean Marks believes Atkinson will help bring out the character of the Nets' roster.
“We’re going to have to be scrappy, and that’s Kenny’s makeup,” Marks said. “He sort of exemplifies what it means to be that Brooklyn grit that we talk about. He’s going to demand it from the players. The players respect him because he’s out there with the guys every day on the court. He means it. He cares for them, and I think that’s where you get that player buy-in.”
Atkinson said the past few months have been about name recognition.
“I’m sure LeBron [James] doesn’t know who the heck I am,” Atkinson said. “He looks over at the bench and says, ‘Who’s that guy?’ The good thing is I’ve been in the league long enough [since 2008] where it’s such a small circle that you cross paths with the players. I went to the NBA coaches’ meeting a couple of weeks ago and was surprised a few guys knew my name. Now the real challenge starts — to get their respect [every night].”