Former Thunder coach part of `shocking' NBA soap opera


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Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2013, 11:25 pm
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By Steve Tappa, stappa@qconline.com
With Phoenix's iconic "Thunder Dan'' part of a shocking withdrawal from the Suns' city this week, the QC's own "Thunder Dan'' found his way back to an NBA bench.

Dan Panaggio, whose name is synonymous locally with the long-defunct Quad City Thunder, was named an assistant coach Wednesday by the reeling Phoenix Suns.

The job came open, in part because Phoenix's favorite son, and former Suns star Dan Majerle, resigned from his hometown club, upset over not getting the chance to replace former boss Alvin Gentry.

Ironically, one of Panaggio's old Thunder assistants, Elston Turner, also officially left the team Thursday after getting passed over for the post during interviews last weekend.

Gentry was fired last Friday after a string of seven losses in eight games. He was replaced on an interim basis for this season's final 41 games by former NBA player Lindsey Hunter, the Suns' player development director.

Panaggio, a former Suns advance scout, is joined on Hunter's new staff by Noel Gillespie and the Suns' only coaching holdover, Igor Kokoskov, who replaced Turner as lead assistant.

Suns' watchers called Hunter's hiring a "surprise move'' by General Manager Lance Blanks, who played for Panaggio's Thunder in 1993.

Phoenix (15-28) had the Western Conference's worst record before the new coaching regime debuted with a win Wednesday night in Sacramento.The Suns followed up that victory Thursday by upsetting the Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles Clippers. Phoenix is back in action tonight at San Antonio.

The team's tumultuous week caps a topsy-turvy month professionally for Panaggio, who was relieved of his head coaching duties earlier this month with the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association.The Sharks were 4-13, sitting in 16th place at the time, but the move stunned that league, mere months after Panaggio ended a top-eight playoff drought the season before in his debut.

"Bringing in his triangle offense and a stout defensive approach, the Sharks were known as one of the hardest working and best coached teams in the league,'' reads an Internet report of the firing.

Panaggio has been known for all of those traits since launching his professional coaching career in 1989 as a Thunder assistant to his father, Mauro.Panaggio assumed the local Triple-A team's head-coaching job in 1992 and led the Thunder to Continental Basketball Association titles in1993-94 and 1997-98.

The Thunder were 313-191 in nine seasons under Panaggio, who left just ahead of the team's final campaign to become an Indiana University assistant with the Suns' current Director of Player Personnel, John Treloar.

Since then, Panaggio's career also has included assistant coaching stops at Marquette University and the NBA's Portland Trailblazers, and a head coaching job with the Los Angeles Lakers' National Developmental Basketball League affiliate, the Los Angeles Defenders.


















 



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  Today is Tuesday, July 22, the 203rd day of 2014. There are 162 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: Everybody is invited to go on a moonlight excursion next Monday evening on the steamer New Boston. The trip will be from Davenport to Muscatine and back.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The mayor and bridge committee let a contract to the Clinton Bridge company for a $1,125 iron bridge across Sears canal near Milan.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Injunction proceedings to compel the Central Association to keep a baseball team in Rock Island for the remainder of the season were contemplated by some of the Rock Island fans, but they decided to defer action.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The first of the new and more powerful diesel engines built for the Rock Island Lines for the proposed Chicago-Denver run, passed thru the Tri-Cities this morning.
1964 -- 50 years ago: The Rock Island Rescue Mission is negotiating for the purchase of the Prince Hall Masonic Home located at 37th Avenue and 5th Street, Rock Island.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Quad Cities Container Terminal is being lauded as a giant business boon that will save several days and hundreds of dollars on each goods shipment to the coasts. The Quad Cities Container Terminal is the final piece of the puzzle that opens up increase access to world markets, Robert Goldstein said.








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