Who is this team that has won 3 straight and has gone 17-12 since November 26th? As I watch the Philadelphia 76ers as of late I seem to be having trouble with my eyes and am overcome with a weird sense of interest and excitement. This can’t be the same team that has averaged 38 wins in the last six seasons? There is a new sense of hope and energy, a new commander at the helm. The man in charge is our very own Doug Collins.
Collins born in Christopher, Illinois is a basketball guru through and through. He played his college ball at Illinois State University and in the 1972 Summer Olympics represented our country at the games in Munich, West Germany. The infamous Summer Olympics that left 11 Israeli athletes dead after a heartless terrorist attack. In the gold medal game vs. the Soviet Union Collins hit two clinching free throws with time expired to give the US a 50-49 victory. In a controversial call the refs put 3 seconds back on the clock and the Soviets handed the United States its first ever Olympic loss 51-50.
Doug Collins Philly roots began in 1973 when he was drafted number one overall by our Philadelphia 76ers. Drafted by the Denver Nuggets of the ABA and the New York Nets Collins opted instead to play for the Sixers in the NBA. Collins enjoyed his best year as a Sixer in 1975-76 averaging 20.8 points and 4 rebounds a game. With the likes of Hall of Fame teammate Julius Erving the Sixers made it to the finals in 1976-77 only to lose to Bill Walton and the Portland Trail Blazers. Collins enjoyed a relatively successful career in the NBA making it to 4 all-star games in the late 70’s but his career was cut short in 1980 due to a serious injury.
After his retirement Collins turned his attention to coaching taking an assistant coaching position at the University of Penn and later taking the same position at Arizona State. His coaching resume took shape in 1986 when he took his first head coaching job with the Chicago Bulls. Collins led a young Bulls team with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen to a string of playoff appearances and an Eastern Conference appearance before eventually being replaced by Phil Jackson. He was the Detroit Pistons coach from 1995-1998 when he decided to hang up coaching and take up broadcasting. He ended up back in the coaching seat again from 2001-2003 coaching an “old” pupil, Michael Jordan on the Washington Wizards.
Doug Collins’ coaching carousel has been one full of interesting characters from Charles Oakley to Grant Hill to Rick Mahorn. In 8 seasons as an NBA coach Doug Collins led teams have finished above .500 50% of the time. His best season was in 1996-97 when he led the Detroit Pistons to a 54-28 mark leading the Pistons to his second Eastern Conference Finals appearance. He followed up that season with a 21-24 mark in 97-98 before being fired midseason and replaced by Alvin Gentry.
Doug Collins has always gotten a bad rap as a head coach. His success with the Chicago Bulls is always predicated on the fact that he had the greatest basketball player to ever play in Michael Jordan. One thing is for certain and that is Doug Collins knows basketball. In fact there isn’t much this man doesn’t know about the game. He is a teacher, a steward of the game, and is instilling his knowledge on a young Sixers team. The Sixers with one of the youngest teams in the NBA at an average age of 25 years old need a teacher, a guy who can give them hope for the future and Collins is just that.
“Our guys are really maturing,” Collins said. “I told them from where we started to now; we should start thinking big things. We should hold ourselves to the highest standard.
This is just the kind of mentality this young team needs.