MANILA, Philippines -- Tim Cone gets to check one item off his bucket list after the Barangay Ginebra coach was invited by the Miami Heat to join their coaching staff for the NBA Summer League.
The 24-time PBA champion on Wednesday attempted to downplay the significance of his achievement, stressing that he will not be coaching the actual Miami Heat roster together with head coach Erik Spoelstra.
Instead, he will be joining the coaching staff of Malik Allen, one of Spoelstra's assistants, as they look to develop the rookies drafted by the Heat as well as some free agents who are hoping to make their roster for the regular season.
"They think it's me going and coaching the Miami Heat. You know, Butler, Jimmy Butler, and Tyler Herro and all of that. No, it's not that at all," Cone said, after steering the Gin Kings to an 83-75 come-from-behind win against NLEX in the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup.
"Erik Spoelstra will not be coaching, at all, through the whole Summer League," he added. "The coach of the team is gonna be Malik Allen… and I'm gonna assist him in any way I can."
The 64-year-old Cone says he does not yet know what this job entails. He repeatedly joked that he may be asked to get coffee or pick up laundry, and that these will be tasks that he will do with no complaints.
But Cone also couldn't hide his excitement at the prospect of joining an NBA team, even if it's for the Summer League and not the regular season.
"Honestly, this is like a bucket list," he admitted. "You always see from the TV, or even when you go to an NBA game, you see all that stuff on the court, and then they leave the court."
"And you wonder -- what the heck is going on in that locker room? What are they talking about? What are they doing? What are they doing pre-game, what are they doing post-game? How do they handle those things? Is it like us? Do they do the same things? And I've always had that in my mind, wondering," he added.
With this stint with the Heat, Cone will finally get to answer some of those questions, and he is excited to bring back whatever he learns from the Summer League back to Ginebra.
"I'm sure anything that we bring back to Ginebra, and Ginebra does with any success, they will follow. The other teams will see it, and they'll analyze it and be able to do it as well," he said.
"So it's a dream come true. It's a bucket list for me. No. 1 in that bucket list," Cone said. "Did I say I was excited? I'm excited. I'm excited to do it. So we'll see."
But Cone also makes it clear that joining the Heat in the Summer League is not a precursor for him in possibly getting a job in the NBA. He admits that at this point in his career, he no longer has the time to work his way up the coaching ladder in the league.
"If I ever went to the NBA, it would be at the bottom. At the bottom, and you work your way up. I'm not just gonna walk in and be a star coach or a first assistant or whatever," he says. "You have to work your way up."
"I don't have enough time to do that," Cone says, adding that it's the likes of Jimmy Alapag who can make that kind of leap. The former PBA Most Valuable Player and Gilas Pilipinas captain is currently part of the coaching staff of the Sacramento Kings' G-League affiliate, after stints with their Summer League team.
"Jimmy's at the bottom, and working his way up, and he's doing it the right way," the Ginebra coach stressed.
As for Cone, he is satisfied with getting the stint as a "guest coach" for Miami. He flies out to the United States on June 28, leaving Barangay Ginebra for four games to be with the Heat during their Summer League schedule in Las Vegas.
And when that's done, he intends to return to the Philippines, armed with whatever lessons he learns from the experience.
"This is truly a guest coaching thing. I'm not being paid. I'm coming home. Four games, [then] I'm coming home. I'll be happy to get home, and I'll be happy to do my own thing," he said. "There's no intention for me, and there's certainly no intention for Spo, Coach Spo and the Miami Heat. So wipe that totally out."
"It's a step forward for me because of the knowledge I'm going to gain, and that is enough for me. I'm home. I don't need to go anywhere."