Eddie Jordan officially will be introduced as the 76ers' head coach today. It's not a surprising move. It won't be a popular one, either.
A lot of names surfaced while Sixers president/general manager Ed Stefanski searched for someone to replace Mr. Exciting, Tony DiLeo. Kurt Rambis' name came up. Tom Thibodeau, Doug Collins, Chris Ford, and Dwane Casey were mentioned. Jay Wright was interviewed, and people were excited. But the moment he stepped out of Stefanski's office, Wright withdrew his name from consideration. And there were reports that Avery Johnson was contacted. Then there were reports that he wasn't. In the end, Johnson issued a statement saying he wasn't interested.
The whole process felt like one big Shell Game - as if the Sixers and Stefanski were trying to distract us by moving from one coach to another to another as quickly as possible. Here's the thing about running a con like that: It only works if the mark doesn't know what he'll find when everything finally stops and he turns over one of the shells.
Who didn't see this coming? It was Jordan's job to lose from the beginning, and we all knew it. Jordan and Stefanski go back to their days with the Nets. They're boys. Which is only one reason this is an awfully dangerous hire for Stefanski.
Critics will see a guy with a career .444 winning percentage - someone who has reached the second round of the playoffs just once - and figure he only got the job because he's tight with the boss. And if the goal is to push the Sixers deep into the playoffs and win something significant, there's nothing on Jordan's resume that proves he's the man for the job.
Meanwhile, Stefanski wins no friends among the fans by going with Jordan. It's true that no one buys tickets to see the head coach. But it's also true that the right head coach - someone with a name or some charm or a fair amount of enthusiasm - can make people pay attention to something they stopped caring about a while ago.
It seems unlikely that Jordan, who was fired by the Wizards, will help reenergize a dissatisfied fan base. But who knows? Maybe the Princeton offense will be a real hoot.
At best, Jordan's hiring will be met with shrugs and indifference, and people will keep ignoring the Sixers. At worst, it will be seen as gross corporate cronyism - an unimaginative move by an uninspiring franchise with no direction.
That doesn't mean Jordan won't succeed. Anything is possible. It just means that going with Jordan makes life a whole lot tougher for Stefanski and the Sixers as far as public perception is concerned.
That's why the Jordan move has to work, and fast. Otherwise the mob will mobilize, and Jordan won't be the only one running from the villagers.
And that's the thing. Stefanski is a smart guy. He had to know he'd catch heat for hiring Jordan. And he did it anyway. That's either really gutsy or shockingly foolish, because he just tethered himself to Jordan and pushed them both into the deep end. Either they swim to safety together or, well, gurgle, gurgle.
"I saw firsthand the immense impact Eddie Jordan had in helping the Nets reach two NBA Finals, and as the head coach in Washington, he consistently put his teams in a position to win on a nightly basis," Stefanski said. "He embodies all the qualities I was looking for in the next head coach of the Sixers, and we are very excited to have him in Philadelphia."
See that? I stand corrected. There's one person in Philly who's excited.
After the National Spelling Bee champion was crowned last week, SportsCenter tried to have some fun with the competition and ran posts from prominent blogs. One of the missives came courtesy of Deadspin, a regular ESPN antagonist:
"Of course, this event is now so big-time that even the guy who reads the clues is getting cocky. They've gone all wacky with their 'use it in sentence' examples in an effort to entertain the adults who don't understand any of the words that their own children can miraculously spell."
SportsCenter anchor Josh Elliott read that quote to the viewers, then threw his head back and laughed and laughed before adding, "well done, A.J." He was referring to Deadspin editor and Philly native A.J. Daulerio. Except A.J. didn't write that post, Dashiell Bennett did.
The whole thing was a shameless attempt by ESPN and Elliott to get on A.J.'s good side and curry favor with Deadspin. It wasn't even a little bit subtle.
Hey, I get it. Elliott wouldn't mind a little free publicity. (Though he should be careful. A recent Deadspin post about a World Wide Leader employee featured this headline: "The One Where We Find Out if Rachel Nichols Farted.") So I'd like to offer Elliott some friendly advice. If you want A.J. to write about you, just follow the examples previously set by your colleagues: get stupid drunk at the Mike and Mike Roast or leave a long, rambling voice-mail message for some random chick, then forward the audio to Gawker Media.
Boom. There you go. You're on Deadspin.