Welcome Back, Randy Ayers

News item: Radny Ayers is back for a second stint with the 76ers. He spent six seasons as the lead assisdtant to Larry Brown, then succeeded him in 2003-04.


Reaction: I thought Ayers did his best work under Brown, particularly in helping develop young players. Ayers and then-Sixers assistant John Kuester (now the head coach of the Detroit Pistons) spent countless hours  drilling guys before and after practices and shootarounds and in pre-game sessions.


Sadly, Ayers lasted just 52 games (21-31) as Brown's successor, replaced by interim coach Chris Ford. I've heard then-president/general manager Billy King say he should have offered his first-year coach more support, particularly in dealing with star guard Allen Iverson. I remember a legendary night when reporters, waiting to meet with Ayers after a game in the Wachovia Center, could hear loud, angry voices emanating from the locker room. Iverson, for his own reasons, wasn't happy; Ayers wanted to suspend him.

That, of course, didn't happen. That was probably the beginning of the end for Ayers. In retrospect, he never had a chance.

Ayers became the head coach after King went through interviews and calls with Tubby Smith, Jeff Van Gundy, Mike Fratello, Mike Woodson, Terry Stotts and, yes, current Sixers head coach Eddie Jordan. Some of them, for their own reasons, didn't want to come.

But it wasn't as if Ayers didn't have credentials. He had spent eight seasons at Ohio State, winning back-to-back Big 10 championships in 1991 and '92. The Associated Press named him the national Coach Of The Year in '91. And he seemed to thrive and develop under Brown.

Since leaving the Sixers, he has logged two seasons as an assistant with the Orlando Magic and two under Jordan and interim coach Ed Tapscott with the Washington Wizards. In one season with the Magic, he helped the defense improve from allowing 101.8 points per game to a more manageable 96.0. That's the sort of work that obviously would be beneficial to the Sixers.

Oh, and in case anyone thinks the league office doesn't have a sense of humor, the schedule for this season shows the Sixers playing at Washington Nov. 24.

That would be the one-year anniversary of . . . the day Jordan was fired.