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Philly calls again: Collins hired as 76ers' coach

The Philadelphia 76ers made Doug Collins their top choice for a second time.

Collins was hired Friday by the Sixers, charged with reviving a franchise that went 27-55 last season and has the No. 2 overall pick in next month's draft.

A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday that Collins agreed to a four-year deal.

Collins was selected among seven candidates, the second time the organization chose him above all others. The Sixers made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 1973 draft.

This is Collins' fourth stint as an NBA coach. He's worked as an analyst for TNT since leaving the Washington Wizards in 2003.

"We are excited to hire a head coach with the level of experience, knowledge and passion for the game that Doug Collins has," team president Ed Stefanski. "He has been around basketball his entire life, has experienced success at every step throughout his career and we are confident in his ability to lead our team."

Collins could not immediately be reached for comment. The Sixers have scheduled a news conference for Monday.

Collins played eight seasons with the 76ers and was a four-time All-Star in a career shortened by injuries. He went 332-287 in coaching stints with Chicago, Detroit and Washington. He led the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals in 1989.

Stefanski interviewed Collins on May 1, and he quickly became the No. 1 option to replace the fired Eddie Jordan. Among the other candidates who interviewed were former NBA coaches Avery Johnson and Sam Mitchell.

"The past week has provided us with a series of events that we believe will be a turning point for the Philadelphia 76ers," Comcast-Spectacor chairman Ed Snider said. "Doug Collins is a coach that can make an immediate impact. He has all the attributes that we are looking for in a new head coach and we are happy to welcome him back into the Sixers family."

The 58-year-old Collins will need time to build a winner in Philadelphia, something other coaches haven't been afforded. Since Larry Brown left in 2003, four others have failed to coach more than 82 games for the organization.

Jordan, Stefanski's first major coaching hire, flopped in his lone season. After first-round exits in the playoffs two straight seasons, the Sixers tumbled and wound up in the draft lottery.

Sixers forward Elton Brand hoped Collins would end the team's coaching carousel. Brand, who hasn't lived up to his $80 million, five-year contract signed in 2008, said there's enough talent for Collins to bring them back to the postseason.

"What gives me hope is that his body of work is pretty strong," Brand said by phone from Los Angeles. "Around the league, people know he knows his X's and O's. He's one of the best coaches that can draw up a play and get a guy a shot."

This could turn out as the most pivotal offseason for the Sixers since they selected Allen Iverson with the No. 1 overall pick in 1996. The Sixers moved up from the sixth spot to grab the No. 2 pick in Tuesday's lottery.

"Before last year, we seemed to be growing in the right direction," Brand said. "Now it's time to get back on track and I think these next four to five weeks are going to solidify where we're going."

Brand's first season with the 76ers was cut short by injury. His subpar 2009-10 season (13.1 points) was partly the victim of Jordan's erratic use of him and others in the rotation. Marreese Speights and Thaddeus Young were among the promising core of young players who did not progress this season.

"I'm sure he had other opportunities to coach other players, but he believes in us," Brand said. "He believes in me as a player. I think he'll figure it out."

Collins guided a young Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls from 1986-89, and the Detroit Pistons from 1995-98. He coached Jordan again with the Washington Wizards from 2001-03. Collins was fired shortly after Jordan was denied a return to the front office.

Collins was a four-time All-Star with the Sixers, averaging 17.9 points in a career marred by injuries. A knee injury forced him to retire in 1981, two years before the 76ers beat the Lakers for the 1983 NBA title.

Collins was an Olympic star but he was denied a gold medal by the loss to the Soviet Union in the 1972 Munich Games. His work as an NBA broadcaster took him to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. After the U.S. team won the gold medal, LeBron James jumped over the scorer's table, embraced Collins and said, "This is for you."

Collins was so moved he had to put down his microphone.

"Then they brought me out on the floor and put the gold medal around my neck because they knew of my story in 1972," Collins said in September.

Collins received the Curt Gowdy Media Award at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September.

"He actually did the Phoenix series when I had 40," Brand said, referring to the 2006 series when he was with the Clippers. "He's seen it firsthand. He was right there. He had one of the best seats in the house. He knows what I'm capable of and I'm definitely still capable of that."