New Jersey Nets name Kiki Vandeweghe interim head coach

The New Jersey Nets have named General Manager Kiki Vandeweghe interim head coach, Nets President Rod Thorn announced today.

“Kiki has a broad range of NBA experience, which includes his 13-year career as an All-Star caliber player and then as a coach and front office executive,” said Thorn.  “We feel that he is the right person at this juncture to help in continuing to develop our young players and achieve our overall objectives for the remainder of this season.”

Vandeweghe has served as the team’s general manager since May, 2008 following a stint as special assistant to Nets President Rod Thorn, a position he assumed on December 31, 2007.  As general manager, Vandeweghe was responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the basketball team, working extensively with Thorn on the development of the team’s roster, as well as being a key figure in evaluating both professional and amateur players competing in the U.S. as well as internationally.

Prior to joining the Nets, Vandeweghe served as general manager of the Denver Nuggets from 2001-2006, where he oversaw all aspects of basketball operations for the team. In his five years in Denver, Vandeweghe drastically reshaped the look and future of the Nuggets. In the summer of 2003, Vandeweghe lured free agents Andre Miller, Jon Barry, Earl Boykins and Voshon Lenard to Denver and selected Syracuse star Carmelo Anthony with the third pick in the draft. Teamed with All-Rookie First Team forward Nenê and veteran Marcus Camby – both of whom Vandeweghe acquired in a draft day deal from New York in 2002 - the Nuggets improved their win total by 26 games and reached the postseason for the first time since 1995.  The 26-game improvement was at the time the most ever by a team that won less than 20 games the year before. His club also became the first in the history of the NBA to go from less than 20 wins to the playoffs the next year (since going to an 82-game schedule in 1976). The following season, Vandeweghe engineered a trade with New Jersey to acquire All-Star forward Kenyon Martin.  Utilizing his hands-on management style, Vandeweghe frequently worked with Nuggets players on the court, aiding in the individual development of players such as NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony.

Prior to joining the Nuggets, Vandeweghe spent two seasons as an assistant coach and director of player development for the Dallas Mavericks.  Working specifically with Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash, Vandeweghe’s instruction assisted both players as they blossomed into superstars and helped lead Dallas to its first playoff appearance in more than a decade.

Since his retirement as a player, Vandeweghe has built a reputation as one of the top instructors in basketball and has worked with countless NBA players developing their skills.  He was a featured instructor at Pete Newell’s Big Man camp for more than 20 years and has run numerous skills camps of his own.  In addition, he has previously worked with some of Europe’s brightest up-and-coming stars at the Reebok Euro Big Man Camp in Italy.

Vandeweghe began his 13-year playing career with Denver in 1980. Originally selected with the 11th overall pick of the 1980 NBA Draft by Dallas, he was acquired on Dec. 3, 1980 and played the following four seasons for the Nuggets. A two-time All-Star while with Denver, Vandeweghe continued his playing career in Portland for four and a half seasons, followed by three and a half seasons in New York, before concluding his career with the L.A. Clippers in 1993. Over his 13-year NBA career, Vandeweghe’s teams qualified for the postseason in 12 seasons. In 810 games, Vandeweghe posted NBA averages of 19.7 points on 52.5% shooting, 3.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.

Ernest Maurice Vandeweghe III was born Aug. 1, 1958, in Weisbaden, Germany, where his father was stationed as an Air Force physician. His nickname, Kiki, was given to him early in childhood and is German for curly headed.

A native of Los Angeles, Vandeweghe attended UCLA from ’76-80 and led the Bruins to the national title game his senior season under head coach Larry Brown. He received his degree in economics and was a Rhodes Scholar finalist. Following retirement from the NBA, Vandeweghe formed a financial planning business and ran basketball clinics throughout the United States and Europe. Vandeweghe and his wife, Peggy, who earned an engineering degree from Louisiana State University, have one son, Ernest Maurice IV, born in 2002.

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