Today at the Wachovia Center, 76ers President and General Manager introduced Doug Collins as the team's next head coach. In the video player below on the right, you can check out the Deep Sixer video of Collins' entrance. Following are some key statements from the press conference:
Stefanski's opening statement: "When we started this process, I mentioned to everyone that we wanted to find a coach that was a teacher, a motivator, and a manager ... When we met Doug and I sat at his home for a long period of time, it became clear to us what a teacher he was. Regarding the managerial skills, he is very detail oriented, no slippage, accountability, which is dear to my heart. He's like me: we dot the 'I's" and cross the "T's."And from a motivational standpoint, his passion for the game and how he will teach these guys and give them that extra that they need, he has it in him."
Doug Collins' opening statement: "So good to be home again. Thirty-seven years ago I walked into Philadelphia as a young kid from Illinois, Illinois State, as the first pick in the draft of a team that was 9-73 ... so I'm 18 games ahead of where I started then. This is an incredible city; I learned to grow up here. I became a professional under my first coach Gene Shue, who is here ... a lot of people say, 'Why would you want to do this,' and my answer is, 'Why not?' I feel like I'm at the best time of my life as a human being right now ... I can't wait to roll up my sleeves and go to work here because there are some nice young pieces in this organization and it's my job ... I sort of feel like the bus driver and I have to get the right people on the bus and, more importantly, get them in the right seats."
"We're going to be a defensive-minded team, speed, quickness. You have to have young pieces to do that, high energy. We have that. And we have some players on the team that I'm going to have to revitalize a little bit and get their joy of the game back. But when I look at the landscape of the Eastern Conference, everything is so fluid ... I feel very strongly that the Philadelphia 76ers can be very competitive and I promised Mr. Snider that they were going to be a team that when he watches them play, he was going to be able to enjoy the game because the team was going to compete, they were going to play passionately, and they were going to give the fans their money's worth. If there's anyone that knows the pulse of this city as an athlete, I do. I've been here and I know if you play hard, with joy, and as a team, these people will support you. I want the fans to come back to the Wachovia Center, I want them to be happy about their team. We're going to build it day-by-day. Because that's what I do, I'm a builder, that's what drives me ... I've never been in utopia when I took over."
Question to Stefanski on why Collins wasn't included in last year's search: "I never had a different opinion of Doug, I've known him my whole life. He's obviously a qualified candidate. He was last year, as I said publicly. There were other people that we did interview last year. We had a list that we felt comfortable with and we went from there. Obviously it was not the right decision and we rectified it."
Question to Collins on how far this squad is from where he wants it to be: "When I look at some of the numbers, I'm a numbers guy. I think sometimes numbers tell stories, I think sometimes they don't, but when you look at the NBA -- when I broadcast games -- I always look for when teams shoot 45 percent or better from the floor, what is their record? And when they don't, what is their record? And it's amazing what a drop-off you get. With the 76ers, it wasn't 45 percent, it was 55 percent. They were 20-54 when they did not shoot 55 percent or better, 7-1 when they did. To me, that means the defense was not getting the job done. This has got to be a team that wins with their defense."
"There are pieces, and now it's up to me to put it together."
Question to Collins on what changes this roster needs: "Once it starts getting towards draft time, the phones start ringing, possible deals, guys who want to move things, guys who want to get into the draft, guys who want to get out of the draft. You do all your due diligence with that, so I haven't had time to talk with Ed about that stuff. When I'm done with my broadcasting, I'm going to come in, we're going to sit down and he's going to give me the lay of the land and where he feels we need to head to get to where we want to be. It won't be a quick fix, you can't ever take short cuts."
Question about the path to improvement: "You find out who of this group that you have now are capable of starting on teams that have a chance to be really good. And I won't know that until I get in the gym and get a feel for who can be a starter on a playoff team, who can be a starter on a championship team ... I do know this, Mr. Snider has paid the freight to have a good team. I know he will pay to have a championship team in Philadelphia and that's a comforting feeling as a coach."
Question to Stefanski on stabilizing the organization: "I think we had a hell of a week last week. We got real fortunate and lucky with the No. 2 pick. I'm looking at Jrue Holiday and with that second pick and Jrue Holiday, if it's a backcourt guy, that's a hell of a backcourt for years to come. And to get a commitment from Doug Collins to lead our team, so, yeah, I'd say we had a real good week and we're going in the right direction. I feel really comfortable about where we are right now."
Question to Collins on how far away 76ers are: "We're not ready to be a championship team right now. I don't think we can be talking championship right now, I think right now we're talking about being relevant again. I want 'the 76ers' to be on people's tongues here in Philadelphia ... we need to get back and we need to be relevant."
Question to Collins on how he coaches: "I think that all players want to be coached, the great players want to be coached, they want to learn. Today's players did not grow up with tough coaches like I did. So they could be ultrasensitive, so you have to be really careful when you teach and coach it's in a positive way so they don't think it's personal, so they think you only want them to get better. A lot of times I'll preface it, I might say, 'Jrue, I love you to death as a kid, but I can't stand those two turnovers you made.' I think you have to have an incredible balance in truth and love ... the best of players I've always been around wanted to know the truth."
Question to Collins on his style, does he have a set style: "No, that doesn't work. You can't say, 'I'm going to take this group and play this way.' You have to say, 'What do I have? And I have to build my team around that.' Every year that I've coached, I've always run a different system, because I've never had the same team. And that's what coaches do ... maximize skill and limit weaknesses."
Once the press conference was over, there was a breakdown into 1-on-1 interviews. Here's a few quotes from those. First, owner Ed Snider:
On stability of organizaton: "We're stable, we have a great coach, we're going in the right direction, the No. 2 pick helps, we feeling pretty good about the 76ers right now."
Comfortable with Stefanski?: "Of course I am."
On making the wrong choice last year: "I don't look back, I'm just looking forward."
On folks saying he favors the Flyers: "I can understand people saying it because we haven't had success. I'm a little embarrassed about a lot of things that happened last year, so I understand their feelings. But from my point of view, I work just as hard for both of these franchises ... we're not skimping in any way shape or form, we want to win, we just haven't done the job we want to do. I think listening to Doug Collins, knowing what he has accomplished in his lifetime, for the first time in a very long time, I feel very confident that this organization is going in the right direction."
Also spoke to Chris Collins, Doug's son who is an assistant coach at Duke University:
On if this is the right fit for Collins: "Initially, I had some reservations about it because the job he has has been great, he's great at it and he loves it. I know how hard he works when he does coach. In talking to him, the more I talked about the situation, he was so excited about every facet of it. Obviously, the kind of team they have, the work that needs to be done, doing it in Philadelphia ... I knew he was ready to get back in, in his voice. When you're a coach, you're a coach. For him, all the situations he's taken, it's been young teams and he loves that."
Here's a few more quotes from Doug Collins, after the press conference:
"I thought when Andre was a two and Thaddeus was a three, they were both out of position. When Andre is a three and Thaddeus a four, that team won 40 games."
"I want to get Elton and sit down with him and let him know as a guy who lived in this city, how good it is when you're going well. It was unbelievable when we started playing good basketball ... this city came alive with basketball and it can happen quickly. It's so fluid."
On the biggest gap in the roster being at shooting guard: "Yeah, it is, and I'll tell you what we're also lacking: toughness, both mental and physical. I think you can develop it, but it also helps to have a couple of tough guys on your team."
On what he saw last year from Iguodala: "I didn't see that same hard edge that I saw the year before and I don't know what it was, I just didn't see that tough, competitive edge. Because he can be very tough and he can bring a toughness to this team. To me, if he's an all-league defender at that three spot, that means we're going to be able to get out and run and that's what we do best. I want him to use his jumper as a weapon, but I don't want him to have to live with jump shots because then he's not playing to his strengths."