Richard Harris leaves Sharks coaching job for second time

Then Malibu High boys basketball coach Richard Harris shows off his Lakers championship ring from the 2020 season. Harris announced he has left the Sharks head coach position work for the Lakers' youth basketball program. Photo courtesy Richard Harris.

Richard Harris stepped down from his position as head coach of the Malibu High Sharks boys basketball team for the second time in almost four years last week due to his work with the Los Angeles Lakers. 

Harris originally left the role just before the start of Malibu’s season in November 2018 when he got a job in the Lakers’ community relations department. Harris returned to coach the Sharks 17 months later. This time, he relinquished the head coaching gig because he is taking a job in the Lakers’ new youth basketball department. 

Harris, 46, said leaving Malibu again was bittersweet. 

“I love those dudes,” Harris said of the Sharks team members. “I want to keep coaching, but I can’t. This new role is important to me. I know where it could lead to.” 

Harris said his job in the youth basketball department is best described as an intern since the department is new. He said he will run and organize youth basketball happenings that the Lakers’ organization is involved in or puts together. Harris said if the NBA franchise eventually deems the department is not necessary, he will go back to his post in community relations. The former Malibu coach begins his new job on Aug. 1 and is excited about it. 

“Youth basketball is what I have been working in within the last 20 years,” Harris said. “So this new job highlights me.” 

Harris coached the Sharks to their most successful season during the 2021-22 campaign. The group finished with a 17-7 record that included two semifinal runs in California Interscholastic Federation postseason tournaments — the CIF Southern Section Boys’ Basketball Championships-5AA and the CIF State Boys Basketball Championships-Division V. 

Malibu’s season-ending, overtime loss to Chaffey in the state championships semifinals, Harris said, will stay with him forever. 

“That was a heartbreaker,” he said. 

Harris then noted that each of the Sharks’ five victories in the CIF tournaments were brand-new hoops territory for a team from Malibu High. 

“All the hype and energy we felt going past points we had never passedbefore…It was really fun to participate in tournaments we had never been part of,” he said.

Harris coached Malibu to a 7-5 record and Citrus Coast League title in the 2020-21 season, which was shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Malibu, coached by Luke Davis, went 3-11 in 2018-19, its first season without Harris, and then, coached by Larry Furlong, went 6-17 the next season. 

Harris coached Malibu for four seasons before taking the initial job with the Lakers. The Sharks went 13-13 his first season and 12-13 the next. The group finished the 2016-17 season 9-16 and went 14-5 in Harris’ fourth season. Malibu qualified for postseason each year and swished to back-to-back Frontier League titles in Harris’ first two seasons. The Sharks were one of the top teams in the Tri-Valley League and advanced to the third round of the playoffs the season before Harris left in 2018. 

Harris was originally hired as Malibu’s basketball coach in August 2014. He replaced Bobby Tenorio, who moved on to be the head coach at Santa Clara High in Oxnard. Harris was the head coach at AGBU High School in Pasadena from 2011 to 2014. His team reached the CIF playoffs in each of his first two seasons. Before that, he was the head coach at New Roads School in Santa Monica for three years. He was the school’s junior varsity coach in 2006 and 2007. 

When the Lakers won the NBA championship in 2020, the team’s employees, including Harris, received championship rings — less gaudy versions of what the players received. 

At press time, Malibu High Athletic Director Chris Neier said the team might have a new coach in a matter of days. 

Harris enjoyed his second stint as Malibu’s coach. He said the players were talented and worked hard. 

“It was amazing the way it fell into place when I came back,” Harris said. “The right pieces were there. The right players were ready. It was really cool.”