No. 2: Sixers coach Doug Collins
Doug Collins is a spiritual man. It wasn't the money or the need to get back into coaching professional basketball that brought him back to Philadelphia, but a higher voice.
Doug Collins is a spiritual man.
It wasn't the money or the need to get back into coaching professional basketball that brought him back to Philadelphia, but a higher voice.
"I really feel that this is the place where I'm supposed to be at this time in my life," he said after being hired as the 76ers coach in May 2010. "I truly believe that God has planned for me to be here, both for me and for this city."
Collins, who was drafted by the Sixers with first overall pick in 1973, didn't speak of wins and conference titles or world championships that day. Instead, instead he focused on the bigger picture.
"Do I want to win? Of course I do, and we will do that," he said. "But before that can happen, we need to change the culture of this organization. We need to put a product on the floor this city will be proud of. We need to become relevant in the eyes of people who are still fans of the 76ers and we need to bring back people who used to be fans of the 76ers."
He started that project last season with a 41-41 record, improving the team by 14 wins from the disastrous season that preceded it when the Sixers won their fewest games in a full season since 1996-97. The Sixers returned to the playoffs, giving the eventual Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat all it could handle in the first round before succumbing in five games.
But as important as the team's accomplishments, Collins has endeared himself to the city that he had called home for so many years as a player. He has won over the fans who trust him to make sure this once-proud basketball organization can again be considered one of the premier teams in the NBA. Armed with boundless energy and enthusiasm, along with an unmatched knowledge of the game, Collins appears to be the perfect fit for Philadelphia - and vice versa.
- Bob Cooney