Eddie Jordan was first on the list of coaching candidates interviewed by Ed Stefanski.
But Stefanski, the 76ers' president/general manager, insisted the hiring of Jordan was not preordained.
Let Stefanski state his case:
"As I said from the beginning, it was a process. Some people weren't happy that it wasn't quick enough; some people said I went too fast. I can't make everyone happy.
"I said communication was important for me, and communication turns into leadership. Everybody I talked to in the NBA, it kept coming back that Eddie Jordan did it the right way, that he put his dues in, that he worked really hard at his craft and is a student of the game.
"I heard it over and over, from 'The Logo,' Jerry West, who had him [as a player] in Lakerville; I heard it from Pat Riley, I heard it when I was [in New Jersey] from Rod Thorn."
It was no secret that Stefanski and Jordan had a personal relationship. They worked together for four seasons with the Nets and went to the NBA Finals twice, Stefanski as an assistant GM, Jordan an assistant coach.
"Eddie and I are friends," Stefanski said. "[But] in the 6 years he was in Washington, close your eyes, that's how many times I did anything personal with [him]. There was no [thought] that Eddie was going to be the [Sixers] coach and nobody else."
Stefanski went from Jordan to Dallas assistant Dwane Casey, Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis, Sixers pro personnel scout Chris Ford, Boston associate head coach Tom Thibodeau and Villanova coach Jay Wright. He spoke with former Dallas coach Avery Johnson, and on some level spoke with former Houston and New York coach Jeff Van Gundy, although that might have been more about researching Jordan.
"What sealed the deal was the second interview, a chalk talk we had [that lasted] over 4 hours," Stefanski said. "[It was about] how players are going to be implemented on both ends of the floor. We came away, 'Like, wow, this is the guy for us.' "