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Magic’s Jamahl Mosley, Cavaliers’ J.B. Bickerstaff reflect on friendship

How close are Orlando Magic coach Jamahl Mosley and Cleveland Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff?

Close enough for Mosley to spend Sunday night at Bickerstaff’s house (yes, they watched the Oscars together) before their teams played each other the next night in a 107-101 Cleveland win at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

As Mosley put it, he and Bickerstaff came into the league together “in some ways” and have a friendship that spans almost 20 years.

“He and I are more than friends — more family, more brothers,” Bickerstaff said of Mosley. “I pull for him. I want to see him be as successful as he possibly can. He’s got a great opportunity with a great group and great organization that’s given him some runway to continue to develop the team. I’m happy for him. [Nobody’s] more deserving.”

Bickerstaff started his coaching career with the Charlotte Bobcats — now Hornets — in 2004 as an assistant while Mosley started off as a player development coach with the Denver Nuggets in 2005.

Their introductions to the NBA as coaches came during the mid-2000′s when working legendary development coach Tim Grgurich’s annual summer basketball camp.

“Gurg’s camp, that’s where it all started,” Mosley said. “Just working every single day, communicating, teaching young guys how to get better and work. That was our introduction to the NBA.”

Mosley, who as an assistant with the Cavaliers from 2010-14, got to know Bickerstaff’s father, longtime NBA coach Bernie Bickerstaff, better when the two were assistant coaches for the Cavaliers during the 2013-14 season before Bernie moved into a front-office role.

“The Bickerstaff family has just been fantastic to myself and so many young coaches,” Mosley said. “Just the example of what it takes to make it in this league, to get into this league. Bernie is never going to steer you wrong. He’s always going to shoot you straight. He’s going to be tough on you, he’s going to be honest with you.”

While the Magic (20-56), who play at the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, are in the first full season of a rebuild, the Cavaliers (42-33) have been one of the season’s surprises.

Cleveland, which went 22-50 last season, entered Tuesday one game back of the Toronto Raptors for the sixth seed in the East and had the league’s fourth-best defense after Monday.

“What they’ve done on the defensive end of the floor and their ability to trust each other, that’s a direct reflection of [Bickerstaff’s] high level of communication and care for these guys,” Mosley said. “With his father, the same thing. You understand that there’s going to be a truth to everything that’s happening. He’s going to shoot you straight, but he’s also going to care about and love on you the same way. He cares about these guys and he’s a tireless worker.”


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