AARON McKIE is coming home. One of Temple’s greatest players is coming to back to his alma mater to work as an assistant coach under Fran Dunphy.
“Aaron McKie is not only Temple basketball, but he is Philadelphia basketball,” Dunphy said in a statement announcing the hire. “His name still resonates in the city, as he played his high school, college and professional ball in Philly. He is a tremendous representative of Temple University and possesses an astute basketball mind which will serve to help the program in so many ways.”
McKie will join a staff that includes Dwayne Killings and Shawn Trice. He replaces assistant Dave Duke, who will become the team’s director of player development.
Former Owl Rick Brunson reportedly was a candidate to be an assistant coach until his July arrest in suburban Chicago on sexual assault and related charges.
“To work on the staff of one of the best coaches in the country, one respected by his peers but under the radar in the media, in Fran Dunphy is a great opportunity,” McKie said in a statement.
After a terrific career at Simon Gratz High under Bill Ellerbee, McKie started all 92 games in his Owls career under Hall of Fame coach John Chaney. McKie scored 1,650 points, averaging 17.9 per game and helping Temple to the 1993 Elite Eight.
McKie played 13 NBA seasons, including eight with the Sixers. He was the Sixth Man of the Year in 2000-01, when the Sixers played in the NBA Finals. After he retired, McKie was a Sixers assistant for 6 years.
“Coach Dunphy and I have been talking through the years about coaching together,” McKie said yesterday by phone. “It never came up, because I was in the NBA.”
When the Sixers started over following the 2012-13 season, Doug Collins and his staff all departed. McKie was looking at getting back in the NBA, but then he thought about his family — wife, 15-year-old, 7-year-old, 4-year-old twins.
“I didn’t want to turn their world upside down and have them pack up and start over again,” McKie said. “I thought the best thing would be for me to stay local.”
McKie and Dunphy talked again and, eventually a deal was done.
“This is the university that gave me an opportunity at life when no one else wanted to,” McKie said. “I was a Prop 48 coming in ... I’m forever grateful to Temple ... I was able to get my degree in 4 years.
“You’re talking about a kid that comes from North Philadelphia and people looked as: 1, as a basketball player and said I don’t think he’s good enough; 2, as a student, I don’t think he’s good enough to participate on a college level. I proved them wrong on both ends and those are stories that I can share with a lot of these kids that come in to college.
“A lot of these kids have aspirations of going pro, and I want to erase that from their minds and get them thinking more about finishing college. If you work hard enough, you put yourself in a position to become a professional. But if you don’t become a professional athlete, then you can go and become a professional in life whatever it is you decide to major in.”
Sounds a lot like the story of a kid from North Philly named Aaron McKie.