Get to know Philadelphia 76ers hardship head coach Dan Burke

(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

After a tough go of games without a good portion of the bench, the Philadelphia 76ers entered Thursday at near-full strength.

Sure, Danny Green was still in COVID protocol, which has been a massive bummer (more on that here), but Andre Drummond was expected to play, and Shake Milton was a game-time decision after obtaining a clear bill on health on Wednesday.

… and then the hits started coming.

First, it was Doc Rivers, who tested positive after experiencing congestive symptoms and was placed into health and safety protocol. Then came the news that both Myles Powell and Tyler Johnson – who only had a few days left in his 10-day contract – had also tested positive and would be out for the immediate future.

All in all, not an ideal day for the Sixers.

Down two more players and their hardwood skipper, the Philadelphia 76ers will turn to Dan Burke to call the shots in their final game of 2021 and beyond, but who is the team’s now hardship head coach? Let’s find out.

Dan Burke took the long road to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Dan Burke is 62 years old. He was born in Lynwood, California, initially joined the NBA’s coaching ranks in 1989 with the Portland Trail Blazers, and has remained gainfully employed ever since.

After eight years in Portland, coaching under both Rick Adelman and P. J. Carlesimo, Burke moved to the Indiana Pacers, where he served as an assistant under six different head coaches, from Larry Bird in 1997-98 to Nate McMillan in 2019-20.

In the NBA, where new head coaches often fill out their bench with familiar assistants, Burke’s ability to remain employed from one regime to another highlights a clear grasp of his craft and a genuine personality that both players and other coaches want to be around.

Once McMillan was fired, and the Pacers opted to hire ex-Toronto assistant Nate Bjorkgren, Burke pulled a reverse Frank Reich and left Indiana for the bright lights and soft pretzels of the City of Brotherly Love, where he helped to coordinate the defense for Doc Rivers’ squad.

While the Sixers’ defensive efforts aren’t quite as good in 2021-22 as in the season prior, that likely has more to do with being down a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate than anything Burke and company have changed up about their system. If anything, when the team rolls with a defensive-focused lineup with both Matisse Thybulle and Danny Green on the court, the team has still been able to shut down would-be scorers (more on that here).

But you know, Rivers and the Sixers likely didn’t pick Burke to be the team’s hardship head coach because of his X’s and O’s or his relationship with the players. They probably also didn’t pick him because he has the highest ceiling as a future head coach, as that honor would likely go to Sam Cassell. No, Burke will be calling the shots over the next few games because he’s an NBA lifer who may never again get an opportunity to do so.

Cassell will probably be a head coach in the not-too-distant future. Dave Joerger, once he’s fully healthy, could also sniff the clipboard again too, but Burke? He’ll surely retire as an assistant who helped many teams, both good and bad, but never became a household name. If this is his final chance to call a few games, why not give it to him?

Next. Will Cleveland intensify their pursuit of Ben Simmons?. dark

So Dan Burke, good luck with your run as the Philadelphia 76ers’ head coach! Post up Jojo, call some pick-and-rolls for Tyrese Maxey, and most importantly of all, get Tobias Harris to attempt more than 2.3 3 point shots per game. If you can do that, you’ll be just fine.