After years as a financial representative and a substitute teacher, what made Dwight Holiday, a member of the University of Hawaii basketball team of the 1970s known as the Fabulous Five, return to the hardwood?
“I thought about it. With the knowledge that I do have, it would be selfish not to give back,” said Holiday, who turns 63 in December. “And I enjoy coaching. I enjoy imparting my knowledge to those who welcome it or need it.”
Holiday was announced as the new head coach of Mid-Pacific Institute on Sept. 9. He also will oversee all the MPI basketball programs, from sixth grade on up. He assumes the same role as his predecessor, Jason Hopkins, who resigned earlier in the year.
Holiday became a household name as the starting shooting guard for UH’s Fabulous Five, a group that also included former UH head coach Bob Nash, Al Davis, John Penebacker and Jerome Freeman. The Fab Five captivated the attention of the state, with its uptempo, free-flowing style of basketball that drew national recognition and large crowds to the Honolulu International Center (now Blaisdell Arena). The Fab Five played in the postseason NIT in their junior year and the NCAA their senior year.
After his career, Holiday became a financial representative. More recently, he was a substitute teacher at Ali’iolani.
Through it all, his interest in basketball never wavered.
Holiday said he helped coach the Punahou junior varsity “way back” and during the UH days. He said he also helped former UH player Tom Louden at Maryknoll.
More recently, he helped coach his brother’s kids — Jrue and Justin Holiday. Jrue is a rising star guard who was traded from the Philadelphia 76ers to the New Orleans Pelicans.
“I’ve all along been involved in the game of basketball,” he said. “Others wanted me to coach but then I didn’t have desire to coach.”
When asked about the concern some might have about his lack of head coaching experience and familiarity with the landscape of ILH basketball, Holiday said, “I’ve seen ILH basketball year after year after year. Basketball is basketball. Fundamentals are fundamentals. It doesn’t change wherever you go. I know how to win, I know how to coach.”
Holiday said his coaching philosophy starts with fundamentals. And while he likes “running” on offense and playing man defense, Holiday says it “depends on the talent of the players and how well they grasp” things.
“It’s not rocket science. It’s high school basketball. You teach fundamentals and you teach life lessons. … a game like basketball should transcend itself to the game of life. It should build character, and respect.”