The two coaches were across the street from each other and worlds apart.

At 10:30, Maurice Cheeks addressed reporters graciously and without bitterness at the Wachovia Center just three days after being fired as head coach of the 76ers.

At noon, Andy Reid glottally but with some cheerfulness presided over a day-after press conference at the NovaCare Center.

Cheeks, one of the more beloved figures in Philadelphia sports history for his playing career, declined to play "the blame game" in discussing his dismissal. Getting fired, he said, was part of being a coach.

Reid, who has earned more respect than affection in his decade as coach of the Eagles, looked out at the skeleton crew of reporters - way down from the throngs that showed up after Reid's team lost an ugly game in Baltimore last month.

"If we keep winning," Reid said wryly, "we won't have to do these."

The back-to-back press conferences were compelling on a couple levels. A month or so ago, Reid's Eagles were flailing around every bit as helplessly as Cheeks' Sixers were in recent weeks. Because of his long tenure and previous success, but also because of the inherent differences between the NFL and the NBA, Reid was given time and latitude to get his team back on track. He has done just that.

At base, Cheeks was a victim of the built-in friction between the man who acquires players and the man who coaches them. President/general manager Ed Stefanski determined that his roster of talent was not developing satisfactorily with Cheeks on the bench.

Reid is both the top personnel man and the head coach. If the team was struggling because of bad decisions by Reid the GM, firing Reid the coach was not an easy solution. And Reid the coach can never point out that he didn't have the sure-thing talent other coaches have.

"It does come down to having players, certain players that can do certain things," Cheeks said. "But it also comes down to the coach getting those players to do certain things. If you have LeBron James and different players, it becomes a little easier. ... But it comes down to the coach getting those players to work."

That was as close as Cheeks came to blaming the players or the people, Stefanski and Billy King before, who assembled those players. And even then, Cheeks bracketed the "LeBron James" comment with qualifiers about the coach's responsibility regardless of talent level.

Reid's mistakes as a personnel man have many critics suggesting the Eagles bring in a new football operations guy. And that's a legitimate solution. But there is an advantage to having the same guy coach the roster even if he is on the hook for its flaws.

Consider wide receiver Reggie Brown. Reid the personnel man drafted and then extended the contract of the disappointing Brown. When the season was on the brink of disaster, Reid the coach benched Brown. By yesterday, Reid was touting the improvement in the wide receiving corps: "from leading the league in drops to catching basically everything that is thrown at you."

The personnel guy who thought Lito Sheppard would accept a reduced role after the Asante Samuel signing now keeps Sheppard on the sideline. The executive who didn't sign a proven fullback has had to coach his way around that oversight.

Cheeks didn't have the power or the time for that. It was telling that Samuel Dalembert was excited to play for interim coach Tony DiLeo, who as a personnel guy played good cop with the wildly inconsistent big man. Cheeks was the guy who had to take away playing time when Dalembert drifted off into whatever fog comes over him at times.

In the end, the personnel men decide who is coaching and who is on the roster. Given a flawed roster, Stefanski took the relatively easy step of firing the coach.

Given a flawed roster, Reid has to coach that much better. He is still coaching here because, for the most part, he has been able to work around problems - even ones he created himself.

That doesn't mean Eagles owner Jeff Lurie shouldn't re-evaluate his team's way of doing business, even if Reid is able to coax the team into another strong finish and a playoff berth. The point here is that there are advantages to eliminating that friction between the personnel side and the coaching side.

At 11, Cheeks took his gentlemanly leave, sounding as if he were satisfied he'd done his best, and planning to take a nice break.

At 12:30, Reid said he was "in the grinder" of another late-season push for the playoffs. Unlike Cheeks, his personnel guy gave Reid the time and the free rein to coach his team out of the tailspin it was in.

It helps when your personnel guy is you.

Contact columnist Phil Sheridan at 215-854-2844 or Read his recent work at