On Sunday evening, Adrian Wojnarowski dropped one of his infamous Woj bombs, as he broke the retirement of Jeff Bzdelik.
In a blow to the Houston Rockets, associate head coach Jeff Bzdelik -- architect of franchise's rejuvenated defense -- has informed team he's retiring, league sources tell ESPN. Bzdelik, 65, was a head coach with Nuggets in NBA and Colorado, Air Force and Wake Forest in college.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 17, 2018
Bzdelik was the Colorado Buffaloes’ head coach from 2007 to 2010. He coached the Buffs to a 36-58 record in his three seasons after being hired away from the Air Force Academy. Bzdelik’s record was poor despite his being a solid all-around coach; if anything, his lack of winning seasons should reflect the lackluster history of Colorado bsaketball before Tad Boyle took over.
Bzdelik was a good recruiter as he brought in future NBA players Alec Burks and Cory Higgins. Before eventually leaving for Wake Forest, he also recruited notable players Austin Dufault and Nate Tomlinson, the latter of whom is now on the Buffs’ coaching staff as a coaching intern. Bzdelik never took the Buffs to a postseason tournament, but his recruiting success was the foundation for the squad that won the Pac-12 Championship in 2011-12.
Bzdelik didn’t find much success at Wake Forest, but in 2014 he was welcomed back to the NBA. He quickly (re)built his name as one of the best defensive minds in the game. He was an assistant coach on the famed Grit N Grind Memphis Grizzlies, a defensive juggernaut that thrived with old school ball while the rest of the game evolved to pace-and-space. In 2016, Bzdelik moved on to the infamously defensive adverse Houston Rockets, where despite having James Harden and Ryan Anderson in the starting lineup, he designed one of the best defenses in the NBA. Many in the NBA credit the former CU coach for creating an aggressive switch-heavy defense capable of defeating the Golden State Warriors; unfortunately, key injuries derailed Houston’s Finals bid.
Now at the age of 65, Bzdelik has called it quits. It was a surprise to many who expected him to continue to work as an assistant coach in Houston, at least through this year. The immediate joke is that Carmelo Anthony, Bzdelik’s former pupil with the Denver Nuggets, is so bad at defense that he made a defensive-minded coach retire from the shame of having to reteach fundamentals to the former All-Star. If it is indeed true Melo led to this retirement, we wish Bzdelik peace of mind in his retirement.