Former Sixers coach Doug Collins has officially signed a multiyear deal with ESPN to return to television sets nationwide this season.
Collins will join Magic Johnson, Bill Simmons, and Jalen Rose on the set of “NBA Countdown,” a role filled last season by Michael Wilbon. Collins will also serve as a game analyst for several ESPN-televised games throughout the season; a role he has received recognition for.
While discussing his new position with ESPN.com, Collins fondly reflected on his tenure as the head coach of the 76ers.
“I loved it, I absolutely loved [my time coaching the Sixers],” he stated.
“To go back there, it was a circle-of-life thing for me. I went there as a player when the team was 9-73. And then to be in the NBA Finals in 1977, I got to play with some great players and some great coaches. So to go back the second time as a coach, going back to so many established friendships in the city and the fans and getting back into the playoffs, I just love the place. I’ve always loved the passion of the fans and just how much they love their teams in Philadelphia.”
Collins received a lot of support throughout his first two seasons, the second one culminating with the Sixers falling one game short of the Eastern Conference Finals. That support, however, began to fade each day that Andrew Bynum sat on the sideline as the Sixers struggled their way through last season. Unjustly or not, Collins has taken a lot of heat for the Bynum debacle, another issue he addressed with ESPN.
“We swung for the fences when we added Andrew Bynum,” he stated, alluding to the magnitude of the move.
“We had to give up a lot of young pieces [and] Andrew was hurt and it didn’t work out," Collins said. "But I give a lot of credit to Josh [Harris] and the ownership because they didn’t want to be mediocre. They wanted to have a chance at being a championship team.”
At the time, the organization, and many within the fanbase, felt that adding a potentially dominant center like Bynum to the core of the team that made the playoff push could catapult them to true contender status.
Unfortunately it didn’t work that way, and the Sixers lost a lot of promising pieces in the process.
“If you look at the pieces we had, with [Mo] Harkless and [Nikola] Vucevic and Jrue [Holiday] and Dre [Andre Iguodala] and Thad [Young] and Evan [Turner] and Spencer [Hawes], there were a lot of good young pieces. It’s a shame the Andrew Bynum thing didn’t work out. It was nobody’s fault. It just didn’t work out,” Collins stated, inadvertently rubbing salt in the wounds of still-sour Sixers fans.
Though he is no longer calling the shots for them, Collins said that he will still be paying very close attention to his former team.
“I’m going to be watching them very closely,” he stated, before offering his opinion on the rebuilding process and reiterating his dedication to the 76ers.
“Rebuilding is very tough; everything has to go right. It’s going to be a long, arduous process. But I’m a 76er. That’s where I was drafted. That’s where I gave my heart and soul. I walk around with an artificial knee and two artificial hips I gave Philly when I played. And I walk out of there having given them my heart and soul.”