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A championship conversation: 1-on-1 with former Pacers assistant Tyler Marsh
Tyler Marsh won a WNBA title last year with the Las Vegas Aces. He also has D League and NBA Championships.
Tyler Marsh is about family and for his family, basketball rules. His father, Donnie Marsh, is a longtime hoops coach so Tyler grew up going to countless game.
Late last month, it was time for roles to be reversed.
Marsh, who departed his role as a Pacers assistant coach for player development after the 2021-22 season, was hired by Becky Hammon to be on her staff with the Las Vegas Aces. To start this season, however, Hammon put Marsh in charge while she served a two-game suspension by the WNBA for “for violating league and team Respect in the Workplace policies.”
So on May 20th, Marsh’s family was there in Seattle as he served as acting head coach for their season-opening win over the Storm. All this came after the Aces won the WNBA Championship last season and then two days later, Marsh became a dad to a healthy boy.
“I have a lot of confidence in Tyler,” Aces head coach Becky Hammon told Fieldhouse Files. “I’m really happy that he wanted to come and join my staff. But don’t confuse his quietness for being intimidated or whatever. He’s like strength and calm in a storm, he’s got a lot of it factor to him.
“When it’s his turn, he’s gonna be fantastic. Trust me, he’s one of the good ones.”
“She really prepared them for this moment,” added Aces guard Jackie Young, who is from Indiana and played at Notre Dame. “He stepped right in and was able to get the job done. We all trust him and work with him every day. It was a good opportunity for him.”
Marsh grew up a Pacers fan and after his last game with the team in Brooklyn, head coach Rick Carlisle gifted him the game ball.
The Aces were recently in Indy. After an impressive 84-80 come-from-behind win over the Fever to improve to 6-0 — they’re now 8-1 — I caught up with Marsh, who now has championships in the D League (Rio Grande Valley in 2013, NBA (Toronto Raptors in 2019) and WNBA.
Read my Q&A with him below. Or, you can listen to it in the embedded media player.
All right, you’ve heard it twice before. But champ, how’s that sound?
It sounds amazing. In a game place with a great organization. A great coach that trusts me a lot so there’s a lot of responsibility put in my hands, as well as the rest of the staff. It’s been great so far. The team is amazing on and off the court so it makes for a very fun working environment.
What stood out to you about that first year in Las Vegas, with way more responsibility and also a true championship team.
The transition was great just because myself, as well as Becky and Natalie Nakase, (former Clippers assistant) who is on staff, we all were coming through a similar transition from the NBA over to the WNBA. The organization that we work for is super welcoming, the city has been welcoming so that was my first impression — how close knit and family oriented the organization is and then on down to our players. They make it fun to come to work each and every day, they’ll let you know how they feel about you, we let them know how we feel about them and so it’s a very, very fun place to work.
What’s it like having basketball in Las Vegas?
It’s been great — and especially great now. Our hockey team is in the Stanley Cup Finals. We’re kind of the talk of the town sports wise, as well as the Golden Knights. There’s a hunger and a passion that has been created and is still developing for basketball; and for women’s basketball in particular. We’re excited to be there, the crowd shows us love and support, the city shows us love and support, we embrace the community and the community embraces us.
(Note: The Golden Knights won the Stanley Cup Finals on June 13.)
Take me through the first couple of games this season after Becky, who was suspended, handed you the proverbial clipboard and says, ‘Hey, we need you.’ What was that first moment like and then getting a couple of wins.
(Note: Several Aces players turned the corner of the inner hallway and saw us talking. ‘Yeah, Ty!’ one shouted. Then the other said, ‘Ask him about his new fade!’ We all laughed.)
The first few games have been great. Our staff prides ourself in sticking up for each other and having each other’s back through thick and thin, good and bad. That was the mindset going into that first game in Seattle — staying true to our identity as a team, making sure we eliminated as many distractions as possible for our players and then ultimately, carrying out and executing the game plans that we had put in place and staying true to our principles that Becky has put in place. She trusts us wholeheartedly so it was an amazing experience for myself in Seattle; I’m sure Natalie would say the same about coaching in LA. Again, it’s just a blessing that she trusts me that much.
Did you feel the nerves? Because I know you were prepared for that moment, probably over prepared. But to go through that and know you are the one, what was that feeling?
Yeah, first and foremost just not letting our head coach down, not letting our team down. I think that’s where the nerves come from. She lets us coach each team (starters and reserves) in practice every day so you get the practice with the clipboard and speaking in front of the team. So once the lights come on, that part is a little bit easier. But still, in the back of your mind, want to do everything the right way and represent your organization and represent our head coach as well as possible.
And then afterward, having players dump water all over you in the locker room, I feel like that’s a moment you don’t want, but you also do want as an acting head coach. They were all celebrating and we just heard them in the hallway shouting you out for once.
That was an amazing feeling. It’s truly, truly a blessing to be able to work for them, with them. The amount of trust and the relationships that we’ve been able to build on the court and off the court is something that will carry beyond basketball. It’s something that we both value beyond basketball. It’s truly a privilege to get to work in that kind of environment each day.
I think the best thing I saw was in your debut, your whole family was able to be there in Seattle to support you. I’m sure pops (Donnie Marsh) was watching. What did that mean to you as someone so committed to family and the game?
Man, that meant everything. To have my wife, my son there and then my dad. I can’t even count how many times I’ve attended his games, watching him coach throughout my life and his coaching career. So for him to be able to do that, to be able be there for my first head-coaching experience, it was an amazing feeling for sure.
How much have you stayed clued in on the Pacers, what they’ve been up to and Tyrese Haliburton taking a big leap?
I’m locked in to the Pacers. I watch just about every game that I can. Really both teams that I’ve worked for, in Toronto and with Indiana, I try to watch as much as possible. I still stay in contact with a lot of the staff here. It’s exciting to see. You felt a different vibe, a different type of atmosphere this year just watching each game. It’s amazing what Tyrese has been able to do for this organization. And a great job by coach Carlisle and his staff of just bringing back that joy of Indiana Pacers basketball. They’ve got a lot of young pieces that will be great for their future moving forward for sure.
When you make that trip back to Indy, anything in particular you have to go do or see? Or do you reminiscence as you’re riding the bus across I-70 from the airport?
It’s only a year and a half removed, but I still have awesome memories from here and awesome relationships that I still have within the city. It will always be a part of my story and a part of me for sure. I stay in contact as much as possible and I always love coming back to Indy.