Brian Wheeler

Apr 07

Image Consultants Need Not Apply

By Brian Wheeler Posted in: kalebcanales

There are a lot of folks in this country that make a pretty good living as an image consultant. Their job is to define the proper way for a person or a company to present itself. A lot of people enlist the help of an image consultant when they aren't quite sure how to best create a favorable response to who they are. In some cases, people have had to take on an entirely different persona to achieve what they desire.

I'm guessing an image consultant wouldn't be needed with Kaleb Canales. For one, he's as genuine as they come. Two, he doesn't spend a lot of time worrying what other people think outside of his select group of family and friends. Three, he doesn't have to worry anyway as anyone who has come into contact with him for more than 5 minutes raves about what kind of person he is.

I've had the pleasure of knowing Kaleb since he came to the Blazers in 2004. Even back then, his boundless energy and enthusiasm were constants. You'd often wonder how he could always be that way, and yet he was. If he had a down day like most of us, he sure never let on that he did. You'd tell yourself sometimes that nobody could be that positive all of the time, and yet, he always seemed to be.

He told me early on that he would be an NBA head coach someday. Lofty aspirations I thought for a guy that started out as an intern and was then toiling as a video coordinator. Still, you could see he was driven and very goal-oriented. He was the kind of guy you just wouldn't think of rooting against, or for that matter, doubting that he could be whatever he wanted to be.

I've dated a girl who lives in Los Angeles off and on for a year and a half. She was in Sacramento last season on my birthday. As we were getting ready to play the Kings, she was watching our players warm up and noticed this hard working young assistant coach running around with the guys and helping them prepare for the game. She noted to me that he seemed to have a constant smile on his face and without knowing a ton about basketball, it was clear to her that this was a guy who loved what he was doing. His enthusiasm was making her excited, and she wasn't even playing. You guessed it. That guy was Kaleb.

Fast forward now to a short time ago. This girl is with me at our game in L.A. against the Clippers. She sits nearby as I tape our pre-game radio interview with Kaleb. She listens to his answers and even in this setting still sees the guy who can't hide the excitement for what he's doing. We finish the interview and after he walks off to go warm up Wesley Matthews, she remarks to me that she doesn't even know Kaleb, and yet she can't help but root for him. Her exact words were, "he's not trying to get you to like him, but you do anyway. You can just tell he's a good person."

And of course she couldn't be more right. I tell that story just to show you that you don't have to know Kaleb Canales for 8 years as I have to cheer for him to succeed. It does just happen. There are so many phony people in this world, folks that would like you to believe they are someone they're not. So it's refreshing when someone comes along that is everything they seem to be and more. And they don't even have to work at it. They just are.

So it shouldn't be any surprise that despite not having any previous NBA head coaching experience, Kaleb has restored the competitive spirit and fight in a Blazers' team that had somehow lost its' way just after the All-Star Break. Nate McMillan is a fabulous coach and an even better person, but for some reason, the players weren't responding to him anymore. It's happened to a lot of successful head coaches, and sometimes it's hard to explain why.

But since taking over the job as head coach, Kaleb has the players putting out maximum effort again, and battling from start to finish every night. That's all he wanted from each of his guys when he met with them for the first time in his new role. In front of their teammates, each guy was asked directly by Kaleb if he could count on them bringing everything they had to each game left on the schedule. To a man, they all promised they would. And when you make a promise to Kaleb Canales, however large or small, you just get the feeling you better not let him down. You know he'll be in your corner every minute of the day. How bad would you look if you couldn't hold up your end of the bargain?

And so the Blazers have. And while Kaleb continues to learn on the job each day, it's easy to see this is his destiny. An NBA head coach, and even sooner than he envisioned. And now that he has the position, you sense he may not be giving it up anytime soon. The great story that is Kaleb Canales has many more chapters to write. And yet, it's quite a tale so far, and my guess is the best is yet to come.

I mean, at this point, even the best of image consultants would have to agree with that, don't you think?


  1. Brian, thanks for the peek into Kaleb Canales. I love the enthusiasm he has brought back to our team. Hmmm, will he be head coach next year... not sure, but where does he go from here if not selected by new Blazers' GM. A really tough predicament for a new GM to come into, seems to me.

    by DeVinMzM on 4/7/2012 7:53 AM
  2. Hey that is Great Brian; You have got to blog more often, you are pretty unique yourself.

    I had to watch the game with Mavs announcers last night, NBA Package; One of the announcers was talking about Kaleb, and giving his back ground. He said he seen Kaleb before the game went up and shook his hand, told Kaleb they had a mutual friend and Kaleb gave him a genuine hug and thanked him for acknowledging him.
    That ties into what you are saying and what I have read about him.
    I followed him doing the summer league, and was impressed by the way he had the new players playing. Other then that I knew nothing about him, except to be impressed by the way he has the team playing in this fretful season. He even reached down and pulled Raymond out of despair, which is not only a great feat, but most coaches would not have bothered.
    Thanks for the article, very touching and GENUINE.

    by Hg on 4/7/2012 8:13 AM
  3. Nice article Brian! We need this positive attitude from our coach...sooner or later it will be contagious!!!

    peace out,

    by daddylogan on 4/7/2012 12:22 PM
  4. Very well written. I hope the Blazers keep Kaleb. Not sure if he is ready for the head coaching job that is "non-interim"...but maybe he is. I am sure he is better than many of the re-treads out there. He strikes me as being smarter than many of the former player coaches. I do have a question re: being a player's coach. Do you think it is at all possible that a player would take advantage of his good nature???? Mary Joelle

    by natsthecat on 4/7/2012 12:28 PM
  5. I admire the mans passion and energy but I would love to see him in a primary assistant role under someone like Larry Brown for two years until he completely ready to run the squad.

    by cmeese47 on 4/7/2012 11:50 PM
  6. cmeese47: I disagree, On the job training is really the best way to go.
    To train under someone else, you adapts their bad habits along with your own. Just go out and learn on your own, keep opened minded, and learn by mistakes. If you have the talent they will take you far regardless of your experience.

    As Wheels said Image Consultants Need Not Apply, and that is what being an under study brings

    by Hg on 4/8/2012 7:18 AM
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