A plywood backboard. Grass for a court.
These are not ideal basketball conditions for Rainier, Wash., residents.
And yet, nearly every day during their early adolescent years, Todd Forcier and his brother Chad would engage in cut-throat games of one-on-one, where the only thing dirtier than their play was the mud-soaked ball they shot with.
It’s not as though hoops was the family pastime. If it were up to their father, Rick, the brothers would currently be working as missionaries on a foreign continent.
And it’s not like either possessed some prodigious talent, either. In fact, neither played ball on a level higher than high school.
In other words, it’s probably pretty obvious to you that, these days — both earn their living as coaches in the NBA.
“We got the basketball bug,” said Todd. “And this, this is a pipe dream for us.”
Todd, 37, is the Trail Blazers assistant strength and conditioning coach. Chad, 39, is an assistant coach with the Spurs.
Tuesday, the two will be on opposite sidelines as San Antonio makes its first visit to the Rose Garden this season. At press time, it was assumed that the backboards won’t be made of plywood.
It’s not that Chad didn’t aspire to be a basketball coach one day. He just figured that if it happened, practices would take place some time after seventh period.
Then, one fall, the Sonics held training camp at Seattle Pacific University, where Chad was attending college. He ended up scoring a job with the team making juice for players.
A one-year gig turned into a five-year stay.
Chad worked under Sonics coach George Karl, and studied under assistant coach Tim Grgurich. Eventually, he developed enough pull to slip 18-year-old Todd into the organization. And even though Chad and Todd each specialized in nutrition at one point — it seemed that their new diet had become to eat and drink coaching.
Both worked second jobs while soaking in as much knowledge they could. Todd focused more on the strength-and-conditioning route, while Chad was interested in more traditional coaching.
But one day, Todd had grown so fatigued that he was considering skipping a day with the Sonics.
That’s when Chad bestowed advice that his younger brother has embraced ever since.
“My brother had called me and was like ‘where the hell are you?’ and I told him that I was gassed,” Todd said. “I’ll never forget what he said next. He said ‘get in the car and get your (behind) down here. It doesn’t matter what’s going on, this is an opportunity in the NBA that nobody else has in the world. And some day, it’s going to be gone, and you’re going to want it back.’ I’ll always remember that day. I think everywhere I’ve been since, that’s been my outlook. I’m just going to outwork everyone.”
Todd’s work ethic eventually took him to Washington State University, where he finished his degree.
He then got a job with the University of Dayton, later won a national championship ring with Syracuse as the head strength and conditioning coach, then took the strength-and-conditioning coach job at Kentucky.
Chad, meanwhile, earned college assistant jobs at Oregon State and the University of Portland, then was brought onto Rick Carlisle’s staff with the Pistons, and eventually moved to the Spurs in 2007.
Todd finally joined his brother in the NBA when the Blazers hired him two seasons ago, reuniting Forcier with Bob Medina — Portland’s head strength and conditioning coach who mentored Todd in Seattle. At some point, Todd wants to get a head job somewhere, and Medina admits that he’s scared of losing him.
But until then, Todd is focused on achieving more immediate goals ... like finding Chad the perfect gift for his birthday — which is Tuesday.
“I plan to give him a nice big L,” Todd said.
But no matter who comes out on top, Todd and Chad’s little sister, Jade Hayes, will be in attendance to console the loser. As the head coach of Bellevue Christian girls basketball team, after all, she’s used to giving pep talks.
And if Chad wins and feels compelled to brag about his Spurs’ 12-game winning streak, Hayes has the authority to silence him.
Her team won its 12th straight game last week.
Matt Calkins covers the Trail Blazers for The Columbian. He can be contacted at 360-735-4528 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.