But that's how things have magically played out for Capel, a former Wake Forest assistant and the father of ex-ACC stars Jeff Jr. and Jason Capel.Capel
helped out the Charlotte Bobcats at a free-agent camp in June, and by the end of the summer he
had landed a spot as an assistant coach on Bernie Bickerstaff's coaching staff.
"Coaching in the NBA
is the thrill of a lifetime," Capel
said yesterday."It's something I've worked all my life to get to this point.And to get the opportunity to do it in your home state, it's just truly, truly a blessing.It couldn't have come out any better for me."Capel, 50, started the summer as the head coach of the Fayetteville Patriots of the NBDL.
He'd been there for two and a half years, after previously spending his
entire coaching career in the high-school and college ranks.He
was an assistant at Wake Forest
(1986-89) under Coach Bob Staak, then went to Fayetteville State as head coach and athletics director (1989-93).He
first Division I head-coaching job at N.C. A&T in '93, and moved on to Old Dominion the next year.
In seven seasons at Old Dominion, his
teams went 122-98 with a NIT and two NCAA Tournament appearances.Capel
was perfectly happy in Fayetteville, coaching in the NBDL, when he
sent out his
resume this spring.
The hope, truly, was to latch on with somebody at one of the various summer leagues around the country - then return to Fayetteville.
"I just told everybody I had six months off and nothing to do, and if I could help in any way, I would love to," Capel
said."I would drive to Toronto, I would drive to L.A., anywhere, it didn't matter, if I could help somebody."He
got a call from Bickerstaff to come to Charlotte and help out at the team's first free-agent camp.
The stunning part was, Bickerstaff and Capel
had no history, no connections through the coaching ranks.
"Probably 10, 12 years ago Bernie and I sat in a gym in Las Vegas together and watched our sons play," Capel
got to the Bobcats' camp, however, Lady Luck began smiling on him.
After the free-agent camp ended, Bickerstaff
to stick around and help prepare for summer-league trips to Minneapolis and Salt Lake City.
Even then, he
never envisioned being Mitchell's replacement.
But the day before the team left for Minneapolis, Bickerstaff
"I thought I was getting cut," Capel
In fact, Jeff and Jason Capel
are still bigger household names around here than Gerald Wallace, Brandon Hunter, Tamar Slay, Jason Hart and some of the other guys who will be in training camp starting next Tuesday.
won't concede anything, though.
"Bernie's said from Day One, we're not going to accept easily the fact that we're an expansion team and we're supposed to lose," Capel