INDIANAPOLIS - There were many people who were surprised when Jim O'Brien was fired as the 76ers coach after going 43-39 during his only season with the team in 2004-2005. One of the people not shocked was O'Brien.
Despite leading the Sixers to 10 more victories than the previous season and to the playoffs, in which they lost to the Detroit Pistons in five games, O'Brien, who is now in his first year as head coach of the Indiana Pacers, was expecting the pink slip.
"I wasn't shocked at all," O'Brien said after today's morning shootaround at Conseco Fieldhouse as the Pacers prepare to host the 76ers tonight. "I told my agent and my staff in late December and early January it would be one year and out."
It was no secret that O'Brien, who rarely provides much insight into his personal feelings, didn't see eye to eye with certain members of management including Bill King, then the Sixers president and general manager.
When asked why he wasn't shocked by the firing, O'Brien responded, "I am a very keen observer of humanity. I told my agent, my staff before I went into the office that I was fired so I wasn't surprised."
O'Brien has enjoyed a strong start with Indiana, which is 13-12 after going 35-47 last season.
Among the other things O'Brien said was that he enjoyed coaching Allen Iverson and has been thrilled to see the development of Andre Iguodala, the Sixers' star forward who started all 82 games as a rookie that season for O'Brien.
After he was fired, O'Brien was paid approximately $8 million by the Sixers over the next two years. He insists he wasn't disappointed when he was fired.
"Not at all," he said. "The last two years were the best years of my life. It's every team's prerogative. If they sign you to a contract and decide your services are no longer required, then you get on with your life."
Tonight, the Sixers are going for their sixth win in seven games.