It seemed obvious the day he was hired in Philadelphia, and the day he and the 76ers decided to part ways. Now, Doug Collins has made it official. The former Bulls, Pistons, Wizards and Sixers coach is finished as an NBA head coach. By his own accord, to his credit.
No, I’m through coaching. I said it when I went to Philly. That was my last spot. Like I said, it was a circle of life for me.
I was at a coaching clinic the other day at Illinois State talking about how difficult coaching has become. There’s so much criticism and you’re always under the microscope. It’s a tough, tough thing. There’s so much money involved because these franchises are worth hundreds of millions of dollars -- and the coach, whether it’s right or wrong, has to be in the spotlight all the time. That’s just the way the situation is.
It’s not just that these franchises, who are being bought and sold for ever-increasing hundreds of millions of dollars, are putting more pressure on the coach because of the financial implications. That was the case when coaches were hired and fired just as many times over in the 1970s and 1980s as they are now, when franchises were worth far, far less. Philadelphia wouldn’t be openly giving the NBA at least 60 easy wins this year if money was spinning that wheel.
No, it’s tougher to be a coach in the modern era because coaches are expected to utilize all the information that is readily available to them, instead of just trusting gut instincts and an outmoded playbook to get by. Collins chose the latter in Philadelphia, eschewing modern spacing and lineup data in favor of things that were familiar to him – right down to going out of his way to acquire Kwame Brown during his final offseason.
Collins’ instincts made him a very good analyst for Turner Sports during the 1980s and 1990s, but his most recent turn with TNT was not a very good one – frankly, Doug shot from the hip quite a bit, and was off in many of his assessments.
It’s that same “I’ve been here before, I know what’s up”-analysis that makes the ABC/ESPN studio show must-miss TV for even the heartiest of NBA freaks, this author included. It’s true that Bill Simmons (whom I disagree with quite a bit, but at least he’s open to new things) adds sound, modern judgments culled from actually watching League Pass and opening up a tab or two during the working week, but by and large Magic Johnson, Jalen Rose, and any other number of helpers (Jon Barry, Michael Wilbon, Chris Broussard) add absolutely nothing of value to NBA fans. It’s all obvious statements and window dressing.
If Collins wants to add to that chorus while being paid handsomely, then he’s gamed the system once again. If he wants to stand out, though, he’d be wise to start paying attention to some of the things the NBA’s ardent viewership has already learned with a morning’s worth of online browsing by noon on Sunday.
If his time in Philadelphia, and the TNT years that preceded are anything to go by, we doubt this will be the case. Set your alarms for tip-off, and not a minute before, NBA fans.