2013 In Review: Top 5 Disappointments in Philadelphia Sports

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3. Doug Collins Unceremonious Exit from Philadelphia

Doug Collins reported rift with Evan Turner, was a major cause of his downfall of Sixers coach.

In sports, it is truly remarkable what a year can do to alter the perception of a figure. Following the team’s hard-fought second round loss to the Boston Celtics, Collins could do no wrong. The former first overall pick of the 76ers as a player brought a genuineness and hope to a talent-challenged team and his team fought for him until the final gun. His postgame press conferences during the playoffs, often with his grandsons at his side, were some of the more heartwarming moments in Philadelphia sports in 2012 and many felt Collins, who had a history of fizzling out as a coach, finally had found a situation to his liking. What a difference a year makes.

Devastated by the tumultuous Andrew Bynum saga, what was supposed to be a rise to prominence for the 76ers turned into a season of despair. After treading water, hoping for a Bynum return, the team finally started to wilt when it became clear the center had zero intentions of playing for the organization. Losses started to mount and there was nothing that Collins could do about it. It would have been impossible to get on Collins’ case, were he not to take the sort of bizarre approach towards the end of what would become his final season as an NBA coach.

Perhaps no more than in relation to a late-February loss to the Orlando Magic, the teflon Collins from a year before began to exhaust his good will at a staggering rate. He would walk off the court before the final buzzer, a faux pax that he credited to thinking the clock was going to wind down. That would have been a story in & of itself, but the postgame press conference only added to the issues.

A visibly and audibly shaken Collins blasted into his team, and his jumbled responses confused reporters and enraged fans. He spent more of the availability praising himself and his tireless effort than discussing the issues surrounding a team that could only do so much, given their limitations.

"“And it’s incredibly frustrating, yes, it is. But my job is to not put that kind of product on the floor. I’m incredibly hard on myself. I love it when the fans start yelling at me — I’m not playing. You didn’t yell at me when I played. Why are you yelling at me when I’m coaching?” “Can I tell you something? If everybody looked inside themselves as much as I did, this world would be a CAT scan. OK? I mean, believe me, there’s not two days go by that I don’t to go Rod [Thorn], I don’t go to Tony [DiLeo] — what can I do? Can I do anything different? How can I be a better coach? How can I be a better leader? How can I help these guys? Sometimes you’ve gotta help yourself. You know? Sometimes you’ve gotta help yourself. Youth is a very blaming thing.”"

Quotes like this were just a snippet of the mindset of Collins towards the waning days of his tenure coaching with the 76ers. Although he was far from sainthood during that season, it would be tough to blame him considering the product on the floor. For some reason; however, Collins decided to drop a bombshell that tapped out the final drops of all the good will he had built up. In his final availability, Collins let slip that he had essentially given up on the team in December as he felt he saw the writing on the wall and knew he would retire at season’s end. 

For a man who, just two months prior to his resignation press conference, would have put himself up for sainthood due to his dedication to hear this was damning to say the least. The fact that Collins had the nerve to rip a team that had been constructed one way, only to not receive that relief, is why he will forever be a disappointment in this city, playoff win or not. As a basketball mind, there are few better than Collins. His analysis both in-studio and as a color commentator are second-to-none. That being said, for the now-retired coach to act the way he did toward the end of his tenure, only to admit he was mailing it in for months is unforgivable.

Fortunately, the organization seems to have decided to take a more professional approach and the future could not be brighter. New coach Brett Brown brings a fire and passion to a team that, save for Michael Carter-Williams, has even less talent than his predecessor. A promising outlook ahead certainly softens the blow of Collins’ unceremonious end to his career in Philadelphia. However, the salt in the wounds that he poured as he walked out the door is as unprofessional a tactic as I can remember and, as far as I’m concerned, Collins will go down as one of the worst coaches in sports because of the way he spoke about his players, only to indicate that his heart was not in the game either.

Oh yeah, this too.

Good riddance, Doug. Enjoy the booth.