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Sports & Recreation

Best Coach 

Eric Musselman, Golden State Warriors

The Warriors won 21 games last season; this season, they had 21 wins by February. The difference: a levelheaded, helmet-haired, 38-year-old rookie coach from pro basketball's bush leagues. Eric Musselman -- the youngest coach in the NBA and a product of the Continental Basketball Association -- took a bunch of no-name sulks to the lip of the playoffs, where Golden State hasn't been since 1994. He kept his team off-balance with a strict, meritocratic playing rotation: The stars often sat for long stretches of the fourth quarters, and guys like 5-foot-5 Earl Boykins signed autographs after the game. It's a wonderful incentive to play hard, but more than a little naive in a star-hungry league like the NBA. Musselman's real challenge comes next season, when his best player is scoring 24 a game for Denver, his top draft pick is a stiff from Croatia without a vowel to his name or a vertical leap to his game, and his fans expect 45 wins and a playoff berth.


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