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AGE: 39 GIG: Indiana Pacers head coach, former Letterman guest, backyard griller. POST MAN: Vogel has the Pacers playoffs-ready for the third straight time. And the best, he says, is yet to come.
Basketball is something you can play by yourself more than any other sport. Maybe that helped shape my love for the game—just shooting hoops in my driveway. When I was a kid, I saw a man brush his teeth while spinning a basketball on the end of the toothbrush. So I learned to do it [and appeared on Late Night in 1986, at age 13]. I learned two major lessons from that: For one, nothing’s impossible, no matter how strange it may seem. The other lesson was, never be satisfied with an achievement. So you want to learn how to spin a basketball. Once you learn to do it on your finger, what’s next?I’m pretty simple with what I cook out: burgers and dogs, maybe some barbecued chicken. Gas or charcoal? Gas. I know charcoal gives a better taste, but it’s harder, too. I like the collection of friends more than the cooking. Soda or beer? Beer. The average age for an NBA coach has to be the late 40s or 50s. As long as I’m in the bottom half of that curve, I’ll still be considered a young coach. But all my focus is on winning. If there was a coming-of-age moment, I guess it was when we played the Chicago Bulls in the playoffs, in 2011, and everybody had us slated as a double-digit blowout for four straight games. Instead, we had a chance to win each one. That was when I felt like I belonged.We’re still under the radar, but we’re on the verge of an era that will be the best this franchise has ever seen. SHOWTIMEVogel is a noted movie buff. His faves: Hoosiers, The Shawshank Redemption, A Few Good Men, Wedding Crashers, and the Rocky and Star Wars franchises.
PACERS ALL-STARS GET FRANK
HANDLE YOUR BUSINESS“Most things he’s told me are really just ‘be a professional’: Take care of your body, eat right, make sure everything gets set up family-wise. So when I do get on the court, there’s nothing I’m thinking about off the court.” —Paul George, forward/guard and 2013 All-Star
USE YOUR HEAD“Vogel is more of a mental coach. He reminds you to keep to your routine and have faith in yourself. And he always preaches togetherness.” —Roy Hibbert, center and 2012 All-Star
KEEP IT LOOSE“You can go through a lot of downs in the season, but he’s always positive. He likes to play clips from movies before games—like recently, it was Old School.” —Hibbert
Vogel photo via Getty Images; George and Hibbert photos courtesy Pacers.
This article appeared in the April 2013 issue.
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