The Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Finals comeback was as unlikely as Phil Handy’s journey into NBA coaching.
The city of Cleveland hosted a parade for their conquering heroes Thursday, greeting the Cavs with an estimated crowd of 1.3 million people.
“It’s undeniably the best feeling in the world I will ever have.” Handy said.
Handy, the team’s director of player development, began his unusual road to the Larry O’Brien trophy playing basketball for the University of Hawai’i from 1993-1995.
“It’s a wonderful thing to have support from Hawaii.”
“Just to know that you have people following the team just because you’re a part of it. Thank you, much love to all the people in Hawaii.”
During his Rainbow career Handy was a WAC Champion, and first team all-defense selection.
Following a professional career with the Warriors, Trail Blazers, and in Europe, Handy began a successful business as an independent basketball trainer.
Without prior coaching experience, Handy was hired as a player development specialist by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2011-2012. He would later follow then-head coach Mike Brown to the Cavaliers in 2013.
His stops have allowed him to work with two of the greatest players of all time in LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, as well as an up-and-coming star in Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving.
“Man I’m incredibly blessed in terms of my basketball life to work with Kobe and work with LeBron. I couldn’t have imagined or dreamt it. It’s just not reality.”
“I’ve learned a tremendous amount from those guys just as much as I might help them with things they help me. Kobe is Kobe. Just to witness these guys every day, I was dealt the best hand.”
Handy’s closest relationship is with Irving. During the finals, the three-time All-Star called Handy his “basketball father”.
“Absolutely unreal to be able to experience that with him and our team.”
“When I first came here Kyrie and I we built a really strong relationship right off of the bat. Just to see him grow and to know that our relationship has grown through this process and we’ve both become NBA champions together it’s an unreal feeling.”
Handy will be a coach on the Cavaliers summer league team in July.
Click here for their summer league schedule.