Bland mentioned he accepted solely $2,100 from Dawkins, a pal for a couple of decade who advised him to take pleasure in 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 could be lumped in with these of 4 different defendants. “It was a enterprise determination,” mentioned Bland, who mentioned he was so traumatized by the arrest that he couldn’t sleep in a lodge 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 number of many years in the past, the sport is what carried him from South Los Angeles to Westchester Excessive, the powerhouse public college that’s 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 U.S.C. He volunteered at St. Bernard, then took over as coach earlier than final season.
“We had a crew, however he’s constructing a program,” mentioned Jamie Mark, the athletic director, who had spent most of her profession working for a sports activities company. “And I feel Tony likes the concept 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 in the future being a head coach. “The individuals in school basketball perceive my state of affairs,” he mentioned, later including that his former boss at U.S.C., Andy Enfield, stays certainly one of his largest supporters. (Enfield is recruiting certainly one of Bland’s finest gamers, Tyler Rolison, a junior guard.)
However he additionally is aware of there’s extra to the equation. A school coach goes to need to promote his athletic director on hiring Bland, and the athletic director should 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 street — 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.”