NEW YORK (AP) — Dan Hughes missed coaching basketball.
A year after he stepped away from the WNBA, he's back as the coach of the Seattle Storm, the team announced Wednesday.
"It was kind of meant to be," Hughes said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "I don't know where the true inspiration came from. When we talked, it was just a kind of a mutual kind of meeting. I missed the teaching. Nothing filled that. Nothing was like that. I noticed that a little bit."
Hughes spent 11 years as coach and general manager of the San Antonio Stars before retiring after the 2016 season.
"I had a good year to be honest," Hughes said. "I was able to watch my son, Bryce. I had a new grandchild — a little girl. My daughter and son-in-law live in Florida and I was able to go down there. From a basketball standpoint, I'm a lifer. I set out to do different things this year. Accept things I wanted to do. Did a bunch of broadcasting and had a lot of fun with that."
And then came the job offer. Before he accepted it, he wanted to talk his wife, Mary.
"She said, 'You have to do this,'" the 62-year-old Hughes said. "I then went to my son and daughter and they said, 'You got to do this.' It just fit. It became something that wasn't a really hard decision. I had the backing of the people who mattered to me."
Hughes has coached more WNBA games (524) than anyone in league history and is 237-287 in his career. That's the third most wins in the league. He won WNBA Coach of the Year twice, garnering the honor in 2001 when he was with Cleveland and then again in 2007 in San Antonio.
He told the AP in 2016 that he was retiring to spend more time with his family and to watch his son play basketball for Air Force. Hughes will be able to do that still as well as spend time with his four grandchildren.
He replaces Gary Kloppenburg, who was Seattle's interim coach after the team fired Jenny Boucek on Aug. 10. Kloppenburg helped guide the Storm to the playoffs as the No. 8 seed where they lost in the opening round to Dallas.
Hughes will just coach the Storm as team president Alisha Valavanis is also the general manager.
"You've seen his resume and you've seen his track record in the WNBA," Valavanis said. "He's won a lot of games and is very experienced in the WNBA. Seemed like the right fit. His visions where we'd take Storm basketball were really exciting — where we are and where we want to go."
Seattle has a solid nucleus for Hughes to work with led by Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd. The Storm, who were 15-19 this year, also have the fifth pick in a loaded draft next April. They have a few key free agents like Crystal Langhorne they'll have to figure out what to do with.
Over the course of his coaching career in Cleveland, Charlotte and San Antonio, Hughes has usually had to rebuild. He was excited for the chance to start with a strong foundation in place.
"They are farther along than any team I've had," Hughes said. "Talk about Sue, Stewie and Jewell and some pieces I saw. I liked the chemistry I saw, they imitated what I believe in. There is work that needs to be done, but they are farther along in the process."
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