Steve Clifford has had an excellent first season as an NBA head coach, turning the Charlotte Bobcats into one of the better defensive teams and almost certainly will earn a playoff berth.

Clifford was a longtime assistant coach and had yet to receive a head coaching opportunity.

"I'll be honest," said Clifford. "I interviewed with three teams, and look, with my background where I didn't play in the league, the first team that offered me a job I was going to take it. That's just being honest.

"But the thing I liked about my visit and the time I spent, I felt comfortable when I sat down with Rod Higgins and Rich Cho that we all had a similar idea philosophically how to build it — balanced play, size, skill. That's what we talked about. When I left there, I felt good about the meeting with them.

"The other thing, the film work that I did. Last year, we lost in the first round of the playoffs with the Lakers, so I had time to study the team, and the thing I liked was the competitiveness of the younger players. Those were really the two things."