John Dybvig: You Kiwis are so quiet I could scream

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Washington Wizards coach Randy Wittman shows how it's done in the US.
Washington Wizards coach Randy Wittman shows how it's done in the US.

In so many ways the pulse of life Downunder is radically different to the American way of life.

None more so than as a coach on the sidelines. Americans are bold and crass and vulgar and loud ... especially loud.

You lot creep around like you're walking on eggshells. One only has to observe All Blacks coach Steve Hansen. Most of the time it appears that he's had a fresh shot of formaldehyde for all the excitement he displays.

On the other hand, I'm constantly walking up and down the sidelines yelling and pointing and gesticulating madly.

That's my culture, that's how we do it in America, I'm just doing what comes naturally to me.

It reminds me of the time way, way back, when I was coaching in the National Basketball League and got suspended, so I had to unofficially coach from the stands.

In Nelson I was sitting in the stands as the game was about to start when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned and thought I was in Disneyland. A policeman with one of those funny-looking white pith helmets informed me that "they knew who I was and were aware of my reputation and would be watching" and then he pointed to the back where they had stationed another cop to watch me the entire game.

Talk about being paranoid.

I've been out of the game for a long time now, but with the dearth of basketball coaches here I volunteered when my son entered high school. Now I'm coaching the Glendowie College under-15 boys basketball team and loving it.

And yes, that paranoia against loud manic Americans is still very much alive today. Whenever I'm in another school's gym I suddenly seem to acquire a new shadow.

As we say in my hometown, San Francisco: "Different strokes for different folks".

In America my personality makes me a character. In New Zealand being noticed makes you a suspect.

John Dybvig coached in the first season of the NBL in 1982. He has lived in New Zealand for 34 years.

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- NZ Herald

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