Wait a second. Let me clarify my point. Kazuaki Shimoji, then the assistant, became Toyama's head coach last spring after Kohei Eto was relieved of his coaching duties. Now he's the longest tenured head coach among the Eastern bench bosses.
Kazuo Nakamura, you may recall, left the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix after winning his second title there, landing a job as the coach of his hometown Akita Northern Happinets. That was set in motion by backroom dealings in Akita, where Bob Pierce was shown the door after one season in charge. He landed in Sendai, taking over for Honoo Hamaguchi, who had been the only coach in Sendai 89ers history.
Another "only coach in team history," Masaya Hirose, had his long tenure with the Niigata Albirex BB end after his team fell in the Final Four to the Phoenix. Former Albirex player Matt Garrison's first pro coaching job is in Niigata.
Longtime NBA coach Bob Hill and the Tokyo Apache are out of the league this season due to their well-documented money problems, i.e., ownership that refused to invest for the long term.
Bob Nash and the Saitama Broncos parted ways after the March 11 earthquake. The Broncos' fourth coach in as many seasons, Dean Murray, is now guiding the team toward its first possible playoff berth or the team's seventh consecutive failure.
Elsewhere, American Eric Gardow is the man in charge for the expansion Chiba Jets. He coached in Qatar last season.
Ex-NBA guard Reggie Geary is the first coach in Yokohama B-Corsairs history. The team also begins play next month.
Greek mentor Vlasios Vlaikidis will lead the expansion Iwate Big Bulls this season.
Which brings us back to the Phoenix, who'll aim for a third consecutive title, this time with longtime assistant Ryuji Kawai at the helm. He'll fill big shoes left by the departed Nakamura.
A quick recap: 90 percent of the East's coaches are new this season, in one way or another. That's the bj-league in a nutshell; nothing in place that encourages stability. (And for those keeping track of what's written above, I'm sure you have a headache, too, just thinking about it.)
The future success of the league -- attendance, sponsorships, media covearge -- demands greatly on some type of stability being in place, but the mentality of those in charge -- team GMs/presidents and the league office big wigs -- hasn't embraced any stability or expressed anything that indicates a basic level of understanding that patience is needed to build something special in pro sports at all levels.