- Associated Press - Saturday, March 8, 2014

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - Breakfast came with game film running in the background, the newspaper sprawled out and the box scores marked with ink, the conversation about who had more rebounds and which teams played well the night before.

The day was filled with practices, games, meetings, talking to players and coaches, chasing balls for the team.

Bed time came after discussions of offensive and defensive schemes.

Growing up a coach’s son gave Eric Musselman a rare perspective on basketball.

The game is more than just a part of his life.

Basketball has taken hold of Musselman, the sway of bouncing balls and harmonic movement of players woven into the core of who he is, a passion of immersion intertwined with an insatiable quest for knowledge.

“The highs and lows of a game, of a season, become a part of your DNA; it’s like a fix,” said Musselman, an assistant coach at Arizona State under Herb Sendek the past two seasons. “I don’t know anything else. When I’m not coaching, I don’t know what to do.”

Basketball has been a part of Musselman’s life since before he could walk.

His father, Bill, was a long-time basketball coach, with stints in high school, college, the ABA, NBA and CBA during a 37-year career.

Musselman was his father’s shadow for most of the ride, absorbing without really understanding when he was younger, sharing Bill’s zest for the intricacies of the game as he got older.

Musselman was there when his father talked to Cleveland Browns coach Paul Brown about the importance of the first meeting with a new team. He listened as Bill talked to San Diego Padres President Ballard Smith about his philosophies, listened to the discussions of what player to take in the team’s draft room.

Musselman had dinner with high school recruits who later became stars like Lionel Hollins and Adrian Dantley while his father was a college coach, interacted with some of the players in the world when Bill was in the pro ranks.

He sat in on staff meetings, helped break down game film, listened to coaches discuss strategies and player tendencies, got a firsthand look at the dynamics of a locker room.

Musselman absorbed it all, using the passed-along wisdom and all-in mentality to fuel a coaching career that includes 906 games as a professional coach, stints with three different national teams and his current job as associate head coach at Arizona State.

“I don’t even know how to comprehend, how to put into words how much being around, how much I learned being around him, much less the work ethic, discipline, things that you can carry into any world, any walk of life,” said Musselman, whose father died in 2000.

Story Continues →