So Joey Meyer exits, stage left, and there is no kicking or screaming in it. No scenery has been chewed, as they say, in the making of this dismissal.
The Mad Ants merely released a statement from team president Jeff Potter, who called the winningest coach in D-league history a "wonderful man" and that the Ants were "lucky" to have him. Meyer responded by saying he "fully enjoyed" his time in Fort Wayne, and that he would "look back on my time here fondly."
Hard telling how much fluent Press Release went into all that. But suffice it to say Al Pacino would have been crestfallen at the lack of, well, drama in the whole business, the utter absence of wailing and rending of garments, on cue.
Here's why I think that is: Because both parties understand the business they're in, Meyer perhaps a bit more than the Mad Ants.
The man wouldn't say doody if he had a mouthful, anyway -- no one is more naturally given to the decent gesture, whether the gesture's been earned or not -- but he also knows, after a lifetime as a coach or a coach-in-waiting, that this is the path he's chosen. You're hired to be fired in this gig, and Meyer knows it. The only thing missing on the walking papers is the date.
That date, this time around, was 1/6/2012.
And, yes, the Mad Ants' sputtery 5-10 start is the immediate reason, but, no, it's probably not Meyer's fault. Even Potter doubtless knows this; he's been around all this long enough to know, like Meyer, that it's hardly ever the coach's fault in the D-League, because so many elements are beyond a coach's control.
Certainly it was a nice team on paper Meyer had this year, coming off a season which ended last spring with Meyer pacing back and forth in an empty, darkened Memorial Coliseum, waiting on the outcome of two games that would decide his team's playoff fate. Unfortunately, the late returns didn't fall his way, or that of his team.
Fast forward to the beginning of this season, and again, stuff happened. Chris Hunter, who was supposed to be the big man around whom the Ants would be constructed, got hurt, hasn't played a second, and was recently waived. The NBA lockout pushed NBA training camps, and the revolving door they precipitate, into the D-league season itself. The Ants went out and got NBA guard Darington Hobson, who was here three games before the Bucks recalled him.
So the nice team on paper was suddenly five games adrift of .500. And what do you do, if you're Potter and you're five seasons deep in this and everyone's tapping their foot, waiting for you to finally make the playoffs?
You do the only thing you can do: You change coaches.
"After meeting with Joey, we both decided that the we needed a new voice to lead our team and chart a new course," Potter said in the team's statement.
So, out with the old, in with 26-year-old assistant Steve Gansey, who'll serve as interim coach. As an assistant coach for the USA U-19 National team, he once worked with the likes of Stephen Curry, Michael Beasley and 2010 NBA Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans, so he's familiar with talent.
Unfortunately, none of those guys are on this team. But, hey. Maybe it'll work, right?
As for Meyer ... well, you have to think he'll land somewhere. The resume alone ensures it, and the resume is not all he brings to the table. Class, certainly. Decades of savvy. A love for the game you never miss when you're around him, and which makes you never question why a man in his 60s still goes by "Joey."
It fits, that's why. He fit -- at least until he didn't.
As ever, in this game. As ever.