Heat Devils fire coach Oldham

by Jack Gallagher

Jawann Oldham, the American coach of the Oita Heat Devils in the bj-league, became the first coach in the history of the new six-team circuit to be fired, when he was dismissed by the club on Jan. 12.

Oldham, who stands 213 cm, and played center for 10 seasons in the NBA — including three with Michael Jordan on the Chicago Bulls in the mid-1980s — was let go by the team for communication problems with his players and an overall lack of coaching experience, according to league sources.

The Heat Devils had a 4-12 record at the time Oldham, a native of Chicago, was released and replaced by interim coach Dai Oketani, who, at 29, is the youngest bench boss in the league.

Oketani is 0-4 since taking over for Oldham, following a two-game sweep by the Tokyo Apache on the road last weekend.

Oita is currently in fifth place in the league standings.

Sources said that one of the keys to Oldham’s demise was the lack of playing time that the team’s No. 1 draft pick — forward Jo Kurino — was receiving.

Attempts to reach Oldham, who is still in Japan, for comment were unsuccessful.