Philadelphia, PA – Things were so bad in Philadelphia under Eddie Jordan that Doug Collins' competence was treated like the reincarnation of Red Auerbach by the fans in the City of Brotherly Love.
A quick check of the resume would have revealed some troubling patterns, however. There's no question that Collins is a good, perhaps very good NBA coach, but his previous three stops featured quick spikes and a leveling off period before his players finally tuned out.
To be blunt, shelf life is always a concern with Collins and the Sixers are quickly finding that out.
Philadelphia's coach is so passionate, so driven and so all-consuming that eventually it was going to wear on his players -- it always does.
That's not an indictment of Collins, a perfectionist who should be lauded. But, whether right or wrong, today's NBA player can't relate to a guy who goes to the whip time and time again. This generation simply can't understand anyone who lives and dies with every contest like it's Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
There is a reason Phil Jackson has 11 championship rings and Larry Brown only has one. Dealing with personalities and navigating through all the pratfalls that entails is far more important at the highest level than an encyclopedic knowledge of the game. After all, virtually everyone in the NBA can play.
That's not to let Collins completely off the hook as a coach. He certainly has his faults there, too.
A brilliant communicator, Collins is seemingly unaware that his drive is often his downfall. He's also not a X's and O's guy when it comes to drawing up plays, preferring to let assistant Brian James handle that in key situations, something that more often than not involves a high pick followed by an ill-advised heave by a shaky jump shooter.
Meanwhile, he's mishandled Evan Turner badly since the Ohio State product arrived in town and his rotations and matchup basketball on a game-to-game basis can leave you scratching your head.
For instance, in the team's loss to hard-charging New York last Wednesday, Collins pinpointed the key sequence in the game that lifted the Knicks without acknowledging he was the culprit that let it happen.
"I thought there were four of five possessions late in the third and fourth where they scrummed out balls in us," the coach said. "(They) got multiple possession that really hurt us."
What Collins left unsaid is that the coach went small prior to that stretch with Thaddeus Young, a natural small forward who has to play way too many big man minutes for the Sixers at center. With nary a rebounder on the floor, New York feasted and took back control of the game before Collins reacted.
Like most coaches, however, Collins is a slave to "execution theory," thinking that the only problem when things are going bad is that his players aren't doing exactly what they are told.
So, instead of coming clean and admitting his own mistake at a team meeting, Collins reportedly concentrated on his team's lack of execution at the offensive end as well as its selfishness when taking bad shots.
That's basically a blueprint for how to lose a team that has already started to wither under a Type-A personality.
A brief respite against a tired Boston team without Ray Allen was fool's gold and followed by a 93-76 blowout in San Antonio at the hands of a Spurs club that should have been easy pickings.
Gregg Popovich's charges were playing their third game in as many nights and future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan was being rested yet the aged Spurs had more than enough spring in their step to rout a young and athletic Sixers team that continues to flash deteriorating body language on a nightly basis.
Collins has 17 games left to prove the skeptics wrong, but the hunch here is that the Sixers can forget about Boston and New York in the Atlantic Division. They better start concerning themselves with Milwaukee and the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.