Staples-Motley grad joins NBA's head coaching ranks
The Memphis Grizzlies of the National Basketball Association announced Thursday that the team has hired 1992 Staples-Motley graduate David Joerger as the team’s next head coach. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
One of the most successful minor league basketball coaches in history, Joerger recently completed his sixth season as an assistant on the Grizzlies’ bench and his second as lead assistant.
With Joerger on the sidelines, the Grizzlies have steadily become one of the league’s most tenacious defenses, leading the NBA in points allowed (89.3) and ranking second in overall defensive rating. Memphis has improved its defensive rating every season with Joerger on the bench.
The Grizzlies have generated 2,105 steals over the past three seasons, 180 more than any other NBA team in that time span, and paced the league in both steals per game and forced turnovers during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. Memphis also was represented on the 2012-13 NBA All-Defensive Teams by three starters, including Tony Allen (First Team), 2012-13 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol (Second Team) and Mike Conley (Second Team). Allen has made the All-Defensive Team in each of the past three seasons, including two consecutive First Team selections.
Before earning his first NBA assistant coaching job with the Grizzlies, Joerger gained fame as head coach of the 2007 NBA D-League Champion Dakota Wizards. Dakota’s 2007 championship was Joerger’s fifth as a head coach. With one International Basketball Association (IBA) title and three in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA), Joerger also owns two CBA Coach of the Year Awards and a head coaching record of 232-117 (.665).
After finishing his playing career at Moorhead State, Joerger got his start as the Dakota Wizards’ general manager when the franchise was a member of the IBA. He received his first opportunity on the sidelines as an assistant coach during the 1997-98 season. After three years as an assistant, Joerger replaced head coach Duane Ticknor and led the Wizards to their first championship during the 2000-01 season. Prior to the 2001-02 season, the Wizards moved into the CBA where Joerger led the team to another title. Continuing his success, Joerger captured his third title in four years after the Wizards defeated the Idaho Stampede to win the 2004 CBA Championship.
During the summer of 2004, Joerger moved to Sioux Falls to become the head coach of the Skyforce and proceeded to win his fourth CBA Championship, giving him more minor league championships than other notable minor-league-turned-NBA head coaches Phil Jackson, George Karl, Flip Saunders and Eric Musselman combined.
An excellent teacher of the game, Joerger had 18 of his players called up to the NBA from 2003-07.
Joerger and his wife, Kara, are the parents of two daughters, Alli and Kiana. Very active in the Memphis community, Joerger participates in Grizzlies team events supporting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and sits on the board for National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL). His family is a member of First United Methodist Church.