After a season in which the 76ers often appeared confused and their coach's postgame assessments usually did not match what happened on the floor, Doug Collins made an unusual amount of sense at his introduction Monday.
Despite not holding a whistle for the better part of this decade, Collins sounded as if he has been the 76ers' coach for years.
It has been less than a day.
Sixers president and general manager Ed Stefanski formally introduced Collins as the 23d head coach in franchise history on the day he also got a much-needed vote of confidence.
"He's like me," Stefanski said in his opening statement. "We dot the i's and cross the t's and from a motivational standpoint, he has passion for the game, and he will teach these guys and give them that extra they need."
Collins, who signed a four-year contract, succeeds Eddie Jordan, who was fired April 15, less than 24 hours after compiling a first-year record of 27-55.
Monday's news conference was the final moment of a pick-me-up week for the Sixers, who began it by snagging the No. 2 pick in the 2010 NBA draft and concluded it by hiring Collins.
It also seems the week's good fortune will be paired with a pardon for Stefanski, who after Monday's news conference received that vote of confidence from Comcast-Spectacor's chairman, Ed Snider.
When asked if he was comfortable with Stefanski remaining as GM, Snider said, "Of course I am."
Later, he added that any questions regarding Stefanski's job security had been nothing more than speculation.
"I think listening to Doug Collins, knowing what he has accomplished in his lifetime, for the first time in a very long time I feel very confident that this organization is going in the right direction," Snider said.
On Monday, it took only a few minutes of formalities before Collins was dribble-driving right to the heart of the Sixers' on-court issues: specifically, last season's embarrassing lack of defense and the need to revitalize at least a few players floundering on the roster, namely power forward Elton Brand.
Collins, who will finish calling the Western Conference finals for TNT, could have used a Telestrator as he sat on the podium next to Stefanski and discussed Sixers-specific X's and O's.
Collins even offered an example: the barometer of 45 percent shooting from the floor. Collins said that when he broadcasts a game, he researches a team's record when shooting above that number, its record when shooting below.
"With the Sixers, it wasn't 45 percent, it was 55 percent," Collins continued. "They were 20-54 when they did not shoot 55 percent or better, 7-1 when they did. To me, that means the defense was not getting the job done. This has got to be a team that wins with their defense."
Collins, 58, has previously coached the Chicago Bulls (1986-89), Detroit Pistons (1995-98), and Washington Wizards (2001-03). He has a lifetime NBA coaching record of 332-287. The Sixers made Collins the No. 1 overall pick of the 1973 NBA draft, and he remained with them for his entire NBA career, 1973-81.
"I want to get Elton [Brand] and sit down with him and let him know as a guy who lived in this city, how good it is when you're going well," Collins said. "It was unbelievable when we started playing good basketball . . . this city came alive with basketball and it can happen quickly."
Collins said he wants swingman Andre Iguodala at small forward, taking less jumpers, taking more free throws, and becoming an all-NBA defender. Collins said he wants Thaddeus Young at power forward, because the NBA game is less about big men and more about spreading the floor. And Collins said he wants Jrue Holiday pacing the defense with his relentless on-ball pressure.
Collins has plans, and the plans make sense.
"He was so excited about every facet of it," said Collins' son, Chris, an assistant coach at Duke. "Obviously, the kind of team they have, the work that needs to be done, doing it in Philadelphia. . . . I knew he was ready to get back in, it was in his voice. When you're a coach, you're a coach. For him, all the situations he's taken, it's been young teams and he loves that."
Perhaps rebuilding is too strong a word for the Sixers' current situation, but Collins used the word building on multiple occasions.
"We're not ready to be a championship team right now," Collins said. "I don't think we can be talking championship right now. I think right now we're talking about being relevant again."
Collins plans to begin working on making the Sixers relevant again soon after he's finished covering the Western Conference finals.
"I can't wait to roll up my sleeves and go to work here, because there are some nice young pieces in this organization," Collins said. "I sort of feel like the bus driver, and I have to get the right people on the bus and, more importantly, get them in the right seats."
Doug Collins is the 76ers' eighth head coach in nine seasons. Here's how the others fared.
Coach Tenure Record
Eddie Jordan 2009-10 27-55
Tony DiLeo 2008-09 32-27
Maurice Cheeks 2005-08 122-147
Jim O'Brien 2004-05 43-39
Chris Ford 2004 12-18
Randy Ayers 2003-04 21-31
Larry Brown 1998-2003 255-205