CEDAR PARK, Texas » Former University of Hawaii star Anthony Carter might be a perfect basketball coach based solely on the mentors in his life.
It's not every day a well-traveled professional player suits up for the likes of Pat Riley, George Karl and Gregg Popovich in one NBA lifetime.
Recently hired as an assistant coach for the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League, the 38-year-old plans to take advantage of his lineage. Three NBA teams contacted Carter before the San Antonio Spurs, the owner of the Toros, hired him. Once he decided to enter coaching, he called Riley for advice.
"Pat Riley instilled in me that hard work pays off, never take practice or a game for granted because you never know when it's your last," Carter said. "And he taught me how to get in shape two months before training camp. I did that my whole career and that's a big reason why I stayed around for so long, because I had a great work ethic."
Carter could have landed the head coaching job in Austin, but deferred because of his lack of coaching experience. He's happy to be in one of the NBA's model organizations. His playing background with the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs will come in handy in the coaching realm. He plans to incorporate their coaching philosophies.
"Those are the top two family organizations I think, first class," he said. "He (Popovich) knows how to give guys rest and knows when to push guys, how far to push guys. I've been doing that on our team."
After two memorable seasons in Hawaii, Carter went undrafted, spending the 1998-99 campaign with Yakima of the now-defunct Continental Basketball Association (CBA). The following year things got a lot better for Carter after he landed in Miami, playing for Hall of Famer Riley.
Carter spent four seasons with the Heat, one in San Antonio, two in Minnesota, five in Denver, one in New York and one in Toronto before calling it a day. As much as Riley and Popovich hold sway over Carter's budding coaching career, he also learned a lot under the guidance of Karl.
Karl thought so much of Carter, he asked him to be an assistant coach in his waning days with the Nuggets in 2011. Carter wasn't ready to hang them up for good, but appreciated the thought.
"He is a player's coach and this is a player's league," Carter said. "I took away from him that you let the players play if they're playing the game the right way. Another thing I took from him is if you're starting practice at 10, he doesn't want you there at 10. He wants you there 30 minutes early so you're already stretched (and ready to go)."
Spending 14 seasons in the NBA while also paying his dues in the CBA and abroad gave him instant credibility with his current team.
"I tell them all the time, I didn't know I was going to get called up to the NBA," Carter conceded. "I never thought that I could make it to the NBA until I did.
"That's what I'm trying to instill into these guys, is to just go out and play and play every possession like it's your last. I was undrafted. I played in the CBA and made it to the NBA, so I know where they're all coming from and all of them can relate to me."