An enthusiastic Doug Collins said he was thrilled to be home and he returns to Philadelphia as the Sixers' 23rd head coach. Collins was the team's No. 1 overall pick in 1973.
"I can't wait to roll up my sleeves and go to work here," Collins said. "There are some nice young peices in this organization. This team two years in a row was in the playoffs and won 41 games two years ago.
"This is going to be a defensive-minded team, with speed, quickness, high energy. We have some players on the team that I am going to have to revitalize, get their joy in the game back. When I look at the Eastern Conference, everything is so fluid … I feel very strongly the Philadelphia 76ers can be very competitive. I promised Mr. Snider this is a team he will enjoy watch to play, compete, play passionately and give fans their money's worth. Nobody knows the pulse of the city as an athlete like I do. I know if you play hard, play with joy and play as a team these people will support you. I want people to come back, be happy about their team, build it day-by-day. I'm a builder. The bigger the challenge, the more it excites me. I've taken on challenges everywhere I've been."
Collins has been away from the NBA as a head coach since the 2002-03 season, but has been an analyst with TNT.
He said he knew about 4 years ago that he planned to get back into the league as a coach, but would only consider Philadelphia or Chicago.
"I feel very up to date that I know what's going on," Collins said. "Trust me, I am in touch with the modern day player. I love to coach, I love to teach and I'm proud to be a 76er again."
Collins stressed defense as the key to the Sixers' turnaround:"Everywhere I've been, we're going to be a high energy, very intense defensive team," he said. "Something we work on every day in practice. Something that becomes our calling card and get us through the tough times."
Collins mentoned trying to get Elton Brand and Thadeus Young back on track.
"Elton is going to be critical and get him playing the way he is capable of playing," Collins said. "He has to get healthy and get him feeling good about himself. There are some pieces, now it's up to me to put it together. Last year was a perfect storm. Everything that could go wrong did. Guys will be excited to play, go to work and be here with the Sixers."
Asked how much retooling the roster would need, Collins said, "I don't think that much." He also cautioned that there are no shortcuts or quick fixes.
"I'm going to put all ounces of my energy into this position," he said.
Collins declined to announce his staff, but did say that Aaron McKie will remain.
As for the first step, Collins said, "We're talking about being relevant again. I want the 76ers to be on people's tongues again. I want the 76ers to be the basketball team that people want to see. This city loves pro basketball. This is one of the signature franchises in the NBA … We have to build something that lasts. Have core guys for 7, 8, 9 years. When you start making quick fixes, it doesn't last."
On Jrue Holiday: "The NBA is a point-guard driven league. That's why I am excited to have a terrific young point guard that we can build around."
On coaching the current NBA player: "I consider myself a teacher first and foremost. I love to watch guys get better. To me, when you teach guys how to play, you can turn ownership over, guys feel comfortable ... All players want to be coached. The great players want to learn. Players today did not grow up with tough coaches like I did ... You have to be careful when you teach and coach, you have to be careful to do it in a positive way and not make it personal. That I want you to get better. Incredible balance in truth and love. Too much truth is no good, neither is too much love. Best players I have been around always wanted to know the truth." He also said he expected his young team to practice often.
On whether he has a specific system: "You can't say I'm going to take this group and play this way. You have to say, what do I have and build the team around that. Every year I've coached I've had a different system because I've never had the same team. Every year have to adjust and play to their personality."
Team president and general manager Ed Stefanski introduced Collins with this: "When we started this process, I mentioned that we wanted to find a coach who is a teacher, a motivator and a manager. They were the three items we were really looking for. When we met Doug and sat in his home for a long time, it became clear what a teacher he was … His knowledge of the game is second to none. He is very detail-oriented. No slippage, accountability, which is dear to my heart. He is like me, we dot the I's and cross the T's. From a motivational standpoint, his passion for the game how he will teach these guys and give them the extra they need, he has it in him."