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From the court to the sidelines: Josh Smith’s journey to becoming a coach

After spending almost a decade flying high in Atlanta, the former Hawks forward is now transitioning to a career on the sidelines.

Former Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith coaching at the NBPA HBCU Top 50 Camp.
National Basketball Players Association

When NBA players transition to life after professional basketball, there are several avenues they can choose. Some elect to go into broadcasting (Dominique Wilkins), while others prefer to exchange their locker and jersey for a suit and a position in the front office (Kyle Korver).

More often than not, players choose a career that keeps them close to the game. Few positions can fill the void left by playing, but many have found new ways to express their love for the sport, including one of the only jobs that keep players in the game: coaching.

Insert Josh Smith, the former Hawks forward who (depending on who you ask) had an All-Star caliber run in nine years for his hometown team. The 37-year-old Smith is working with the National Basketball Players Association, and he spoke during his time with the NBPA during the HBCU Top 50 Camp in Atlanta.

Former Hawks players Shelvin Mack (Left) and Josh Smith at the NBPA HBCU Top 50 Camp, hosted at Morehouse College in Atlanta.
National Basketball Players Association

“I have different passions now, going into the next chapter of my career and life,” Smith said. “I wanted to do coaching. The NBPA has great programs for us to reach the needs that former players need to be reached.”

When asked about his long-term goals, Smith wants to coach in the NBA, saying, “I was a professional player, so I plan to eventually coach on the professional level one day.

“That’s definitely one of my dreams that I want to accomplish. And I think I’m taking the right steps to get there.”

Currently, Smith is assisting on the high school level and gaining experience on the AAU circuit, where he coaches an 8th-grade and a 4th-grade team. He was also one of the coaches during the Top 50 camp, focusing more on the players’ skill and IQ development than just the wins and losses. While at the camp, Smith spoke to the players about caring for their bodies to maximize their output on the court, showing his passion for teaching the next generation.

It wasn’t that long ago when Josh Smith spent his career above the rim. And in due time, NBA fans may see his return, but this time, on the sidelines with a clipboard in hand.

Former Hawks player Josh Smith at the NBPA HBCU Top 50 Camp at Morehouse College in Atlanta
National Basketball Players Association