Bland mentioned he accepted solely $2,100 from Dawkins, a good friend for a couple of decade who instructed him to get pleasure from an evening out in Las Vegas as a thanks for assembly with the monetary adviser. He mentioned, although, that he had little selection however to simply accept the plea deal as a result of, if his case went to trial, it might be lumped in with these of 4 different defendants. “It was a enterprise choice,” mentioned Bland, who mentioned he was so traumatized by the arrest that he could not sleep in a resort room. “I needed to defend my household.”
Bland, 42, mentioned his spouse urged him to assume past basketball and reminded him that he had a lot to supply, however a couple of a long time in the past, the sport is what carried him from South Los Angeles to Westchester Excessive, the powerhouse public faculty that is simply across the bend from St Bernard. A state championship helped earn him a scholarship to Syracuse and San Diego State.
Bland felt at residence in those self same Los Angeles gyms when he returned to recruit one of many nation’s most fertile expertise grounds, first as an assistant at San Diego State after which at USC He volunteered at St. Bernard, then took over as coach earlier than final season.
“We had a crew, however he is constructing a program,” mentioned Jamie Mark, the athletic director, who had spent most of her profession working for a sports activities company. “And I believe Tony likes the thought of constructing one thing.”
The chance to teach has meant one thing for Bland, too. He has not given up hope of returning to the school sport and sooner or later being a head coach. “The folks in school basketball perceive my state of affairs,” he mentioned, later including that his former boss at USC, Andy Enfield, stays certainly one of his largest supporters. (Enfield is recruiting certainly one of Bland’s greatest gamers, Tyler Rolison, a junior guard.)
However he additionally is aware of there’s extra to the equation. A university coach goes to must promote his athletic director on hiring Bland, and the athletic director must clarify it to the college president. And so, with two extra years left on his show-cause penalty, Bland mentioned he knew higher than to look too far down the highway — and even throughout city.
“This proper right here,” Bland mentioned Tuesday night time, sitting on the bleachers of a virtually empty gymnasium, “has been serving to to rehabilitate my soul.”