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How an unassuming coach has gone from Ferntree Gully to the Chicago Bulls; Coby White says Bulls have championship standards

“I wanted a positive experience in the game. In coaching, as a profession, you go through ups and downs. What has been lucky for me is that I’ve had five promotions in five years, and I love working there.

“You just do your job – there are so many smart people and it has been very good for me. I’m grateful and privileged to be there.”

Cotter set his sights on coaching early in life and he enjoyed many of his best experiences so far at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), where he spent time in the coaching pathway. He also had stints coaching junior national teams, along with spending several years as an assistant coach for the Australian Opals.

“I went over there for six months and now I have a green card and have bought a house.”

Ferntree Gully product Damien Cotter on his US basketball journey

The NBA lifestyle is an exhausting one, but the work and the ability to work in the background suits Cotter, who admits he tries to keep a low profile and focus on his job.

“It’s the pinnacle – probably the NBA and also the Premier League are the truly global leagues with the support and the make-up of the teams,” Cotter said.

“There are a lot of games and everyone has their role, and you have to perform every night.

“The thing I love about it is that a lot of us come from humble beginnings. Most of the blokes we coach have got pretty cool backstories about dealing with adversity and overcoming that.”

Being back at the AIS Training Hall last week brought back plenty of memories for Cotter, and he hopes to continue setting an example for other coaches to follow in the future.

“I spent so much of my development in this building as part of the development pathway,” Cotter said.

Chicago Bulls guard Coby White has a laugh at the NBA Basketball Without Borders Asia camp.

Chicago Bulls guard Coby White has a laugh at the NBA Basketball Without Borders Asia camp. Credit:NBA Basketball Without Borders Asia camp

“I pinch myself a lot and I don’t let myself have bad days.

“Today you are an accumulation of all your experiences so I call on my Knox days, my institute days, my national team days and even my Sydney Kings experience.

“I’ve you take your opportunities, you work hard and deal with your adversity then good things can happen and, for me, that is what the NBA is all about.”

‘We have championship standards’: Coby White

White revealed a number of the Bulls’ players had been working out together in Los Angeles before he headed to Australia for the BWB camp in Canberra.

Despite bringing in a number of new players last season, including DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball, the Bulls were atop the Eastern conference at the All-Star break before COVID-19 and injuries ruined their campaign.

White said team chemistry had grown and the Bulls wanted to win over their city and rise up the standings this season.

“Before I came out here we were all together in LA so, with a full summer, anything is possible for us – the ceiling is limitless,” White said.

“We want to make the playoffs, definitely, but we have championship standards over here – we are trying to win.

“A lot of people don’t realize that a lot of those [contending] teams like Milwaukee, Phoenix, Golden State, and Boston have been together for years. Their core has been together.

“That was our first year, we had a whole new team, so it takes time to get better.”

Roy Ward traveled to the NBA Basketball Without Borders Asia camp courtesy of the NBA.

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