Never shy to share his opinion, Charles Oakley thinks his former head coach in Toronto, Butch Carter, was the missing ingredient to a potential title for last year's edition of the Miami Heat.
"Butch is an accountable guy, he knows what he's doing. Like I told you, if he was the coach of the Miami Heat they would have won the Finals," Oakley said in an interview on Monday with Michael Landsberg on Off The Record. "Because in situations, he's the best, (runs a) great offence, he knows how to prepare. He gets you going, he has fun, but at practice, he'll work you harder than you worked before."
Under the guidance of Pat Riley in the front office, and Erik Spoelstra on the bench, the Heat made headlines last offseason by adding all-stars LeBron James and Chris Bosh to a roster that already had all-star Dwyane Wade. They made it all the way to the NBA Finals, eventually losing in six games to the Dallas Mavericks.
Oakley wasn't so fond of Carter's predecessor in Toronto, Lenny Wilkens, the second-winningest coach in NBA history, and the coach that guided the Raptors to within a win of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2001.
"Lenny won 1,000 games, he lost 1,000 games. But Lenny hurt this organization. He hurt it," explained Oakley.
Oakley, Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter - three cornerstones during the Raptors' most successful stretch of basketball in Toronto that helped the team to their first-ever playoff berth - praised their former head coach as a motivator and basketball mind on OTR.
Butch Carter has not been a head coach in the NBA since being fired by the Raptors after the 2000 season - the only head coaching job he's ever held.
"I think Butch would be a great coach. What he did for Tracy and I, as far just teaching us the game, pushing us ... there was no favouritism, put it that way," Vince Carter said. "He was great for us. I learned a lot, I learned how to play the game outside of the veterans we had. I think he would do great for a team of young guys."
"He was on both of us, so hard. If I didn't play defence, I didn't play at all," McGrady added. "And I appreciated the challenge that he gave me every day and I just lived up to it. The X's and O's? He knows all about it.
"Some of those game-winning plays that we had? If you see (them) on the highlights of Vince? Butch drew all those plays up."
McGrady and Carter also attributed much of their early success in Toronto to the veteran core of players that were assembled around them.
"We had the perfect situation. Seriously, I have never been on a team that's ever been this fun, this competitive. I mean, just all the veterans we had. Me and Vince mixed in with all these veterans – Kevin (Willis), Antonio (Davis), Dee Brown, Muggsy (Bogues) and Oak? We were loving life," McGrady said.
Carter said that having hard-nosed veterans like Oakley was important in their development as professionals, a trait that he believes is missing in the NBA today.
"(Players like Oakley) would help develop the young guys, and the talented players that we have (in the league) today, you would see the next level from them just because of that," Carter said.
Though they counted Toronto as one of the top three NBA cities in which to play, the three were not overly optimistic about the team's current makeup, and chances of competing for a title.
"(Depends) on who you bring in to coach. You got to have accountable people on the bench. You have to have an accountable coach, assistants, management," Oakley said. "It starts with the coaches. At the end of the day, if the coaches ain't tough, the players are going to run right over them. The players are sensitive, you can't say nothing to them. I hate the game today, personally, as a coach."