UConn's Dan Hurley Refuses to Coach LeBron, Lakers in Unbelievable $70M Rejection: Reports


This could turn out to be an interesting wrinkle in the never-ending debate over who the NBA’s “greatest of all time” player is.

For many basketball fans, there are only two names for consideration in that debate: Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan and the current face of the NBA, LeBron James.

There are probably many NBA coaches who would have willingly paid $7 million to be able to coach Jordan, if only to hitch their wagon to “His Airness.”

When it comes to James, however, it turns out there are some coaches who can’t be persuaded to coach him — even when offered an eye-watering $70 million over six years.

After the Los Angeles Lakers dismissed Darvin Ham as head coach on May 3, many pundits began discussing (much to the chagrin of Charles Barkley) that the Lakers’ coaching vacancy would be a sought-after role, given the circumstances.

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Not only are the Lakers one of the most prestigious franchises in all of sports, let alone the NBA, but the team comes equipped with a pair of bona fide stars: James and talented defensive anchor Anthony Davis.

Throw in how nice the weather in Los Angeles can be, especially compared with Storrs, Connecticut, and you would think that joining the Lakers would have been an easy decision for University of Connecticut head coach Danny Hurley — especially with that $70 million reportedly being dangled in front of him.

You would think wrong.

Hurley turned down that lucrative contract from the Lakers — and a chance to coach James — on Monday, according to multiple reports.

Was this the right move for Hurley?

ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported that part of the reason Hurley turned down the Lakers’ offer is that UConn is in active renegotiations to make him the highest-paid coach in college basketball.

(Hurley is in the midst of a six-year, $32.1 million deal he signed in 2023.)

With the old guard of legendary college basketball coaches all hanging it up over the last few years, few up-and-coming coaches have taken advantage of that void quite like the Huskies’ coach.

Another reason Hurley probably turned down the Lakers’ offer is that he has a chance to build something of a dynasty in Connecticut. His team has won back-to-back national championships and is well-poised to win a third this upcoming year.

The coach seemed to announce his decision in a social media post late Monday afternoon.

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“I am humbled by this entire experience,” Hurley said. “At the end of the day, I am extremely proud of the championship culture we have built at Connecticut.

“We met as a team before today’s workout and our focus right now is getting better this summer and connecting as a team as we continue to pursue championships.”

While returning to the dynastic team he built is a clear selling point, it also can’t be denied that James has begun to garner something of a reputation for being a coach killer.

No, he doesn’t actually murder any coaches, but there is an odd tendency to blame the coach any time his teams come up short (or even when they win.)

In both stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers, James had issues with the coaching. He publicly bristled under the leadership of head coach Mike Brown in his first go-around, and many blamed him for the unceremonious firing of coach David Blatt from the Cavs during his second stint.

In Miami, LeBron and some of his teammates allegedly wanted head coach Erik Spoelstra fired after their first year together. Not only is Spoelstra still coaching the Heat, but he’s widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the NBA.

In Los Angeles, James has seen two coaches go. Besides Ham, the Lakers also fired coach Frank Vogel, who won a championship with James in the Disney bubble during the COVID-19 lockdown-shortened season, before Ham took over.

There is no direct connection between James and any of that coaching turnover, at least not officially, but a clear-cut pattern has emerged.

Correlation does not mean causation, but it’s still something to consider when mulling over whether or not to uproot your life in Storrs to move across the country to Los Angeles.

While Hurley seemingly knows what will be next for him (a genuine attempt at a three-peat), the same cannot be said about the Lakers, who are likely reeling from being spurned.

Per ESPN, it’s been 20 years since the last time the Lakers were involved in a high-profile rejection, and that was when the team tried to lure Duke legend Mike Krzyzewski to LA.

NBA veteran J.J. Redick and New Orleans Pelicans assistant coach James Borrego are in the running to fill the Lakers vacancy, the outlet reported.

Hurley will return to a school where he sports a sterling 141-58 record (292-163 overall) and will look to reload after his team lost a trio of talented players to the NBA.

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Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics.
Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics. He graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. He is an avid fan of sports, video games, politics and debate.
Class of 2010 University of Arizona. BEAR DOWN.
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, Korean
Topics of Expertise
Sports, Entertainment, Science/Tech