Doug Collins will win you over.
The Philadelphia 76ers coach is so passionate about the game of basketball that he will absolutely leave you questioning everything you've ever known about the game in 90 seconds or less. He can vacillate between charming to disarming to almost cruel (even to reporters, even on record in a scrum) to back to touching and warming. The guy knows his way around the game, and he knows his way with words.
And, to hear Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski tell it, potential Philadelphia 76ers GM candidates (including former player and Spurs/Cavaliers front office maven Danny Ferry) are being awfully cautious as they approach the possibility of settling in as 76ers personnel chief. Because it's not known if the GM that takes to the role will be the actual personnel chief, or if Collins (who has clearly won over new owner Josh Harris) will be that man even as he stalks the sideline. And if Collins is that man? Then the 76ers will have made a mistake.
It's true that Collins has forgotten more about basketball than we'll ever know, which is an unfortunate thing because that makes us both clueless and hopeless and leaves Collins a bit lacking himself. The man is to be listened to, is what we're saying sans cliché — he's been in and out of NBA circles for over 25 years as a coach, while playing on a 76ers team that went from the worst record in the league to the NBA Finals in just four seasons. The 76ers coach is on the court and in practice from October until however long his team plays, and Collins still clearly brings the same level of obsession that he brought to his previous stops in Chicago, Detroit, and Washington.
The buck can't stop with Doug Collins, though. He cannot be the final voice, even if his particular voice outclasses the GM ahead of him.
The GM wouldn't be Collins' boss, whatever the setup, but that's not the point. You cannot have Doug Collins mindful of the fact that his minutes allotment and play calling could influence an owner into signing off on a personnel move that Collins is in favor of. Whether it's a longstanding bent, or a midweek whim, you cannot have Collins coaching with that power, and a GM working without it. This isn't to say Collins will hamstring his team in order to make a deal, far from it, but no non-robot can overcome such a reality. In spite of how much Collins, who has yet to make the NBA Finals as a coach, wants to win.
And he badly, badly wants to win. He just needs another voice to remind him that there is no one way to win. Though, according to Sammy Hagar, there apparently is only one way to rock.
To Philadelphia's credit, Our Man Woj reports that they are aware that Doug's "coaching genius is tempered with a need for constant reassurance and maintenance," to quote Adrian, and they're spot on in that regard.
It takes a special breed of person to have to work in public 82 times a year, plus playoffs, with the "results" (as they are sometimes judged) on the scoreboard. While hoping that the players you coach 82 games a year, plus playoffs, are listening to what you tried to get across in practice the day before. Assuming you had the time to run a practice the day before, in an NBA season. How 29 other NBA coaches aren't as frazzled and as in need of reassurance as Doug Collins, day in and day out, is beyond me. I need reassurance after a quip I make on Twitter.
I don't run an NBA team, though. I don't coach an NBA team, and need reassurance after a quip I make on Twitter. I need someone to talk me down. I have a wife. I have cats. I have Dan Devine and Eric Freeman.
Doug Collins? He needs a GM. All coaches do. Even Gregg Popovich. And, to be fair, Gregg Popovich may have turned into a Doug Collins-type had he not been afforded the luxury of Tim Duncan and a healthy David Robinson in his first full year as head coach. Again, we're not killing Doug Collins for his personality.
We'd just like the 76ers to go smart with this. Whoever they hire? It's not enough if Harris or the ownership group has the final say — because every owner has the final say.
It has to be obvious that Collins' influence extends to the 94X50, and to daily discussions with his team's boss. Before that boss reports to his boss. It's the price you pay for dealing with Doug Collins' brilliance — because sometimes even the smartest and most passionate guy in the room needs a ride home.
The Sixers are lucky to have the smartest and most passionate guy in the room, and he's only one dude! He'll need support, though. And hiring someone who just signs off on his whims, as well intentioned as Doug Collins' whims (or measured insights) might be, will not be supporting him.
Go slowly, go smartly, 76ers. And, potential 76ers GM candidates. To hear Woj explain things, they are. Good thing.