Athletes come and go through teams and cities. Some stay in the spotlight while others can be lost with the passage of time.
It is about those athletes we ask: Where are they now?
Then: Forward for the 76ers team that played in the 2001 NBA Finals.
Now: First-year head coach at NCAA Division II Clark Atlanta University.
The team that would eventually evolve into the 2000-01 76ers was an amalgamation of personalities.
The dynamic Allen Iverson was unquestionably the heart and passion of a squad that would reach the NBA Finals.
Point guard Eric Snow and wing Aaron McKie were the brains, the cerebral guys whose logic and rational reasoning held it all together.
The iron-infused backbone, the guy who best represented the no-nonsense, bring-your-lunch-bucket-to-work character that defined one of the most beloved teams in Philadelphia history was forward George Lynch.
“Any of those pieces could have been moved around,” said Lynch, who played for the Sixers from 1998-2001. “The way they put the team together, we respected what each other did.
“We all were journeymen at some point except for Allen. We came together for one cause, which was to win.”
Although a clear favorite of Sixers head coach and fellow University of North Carolina alumnus Larry Brown, Lynch was traded to Charlotte after the Finals over a contract dispute.
“I think I could have handled that better,” Lynch said. “It was more a salary-cap situation where other guys were making money they could not move.”
After retiring from NBA in 2005, Lynch became a graduate assistant coach at Southern Methodist University under another former Tar Heel, Matt Doherty.
Lynch went into private business for four years before returning to the college assistant coaching ranks when Brown got the SMU job in 2012. He spent four seasons with Brown, absorbing knowledge from the Hall of Fame coach.
In 2017, Lynch became an assistant coach with the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Drive, the G League affiliate of the Detroit Pistons.
In April, Lynch was named head coach at Clark Atlanta, replacing former NBA player Darrell Walker, who moved on to Arkansas-Little Rock.
Yes, he does use Brown’s favorite catch line when talking to his players.
“I say it every day,” Lynch said. “Play the right way. Do your job.
“Looking back at my days in Philly, my days at North Carolina listening to Coach Brown and [late UNC coach Dean Smith] yelling at players to get to the right spots, my making a few mistakes here and there,” Lynch said. “It’s all coming back to haunt me.
“Hopefully, I can someday be as good as some of the coaches that helped me along the way. Hopefully, I can help make a positive difference in the lives of some young men.”
Although he’s moved on to a new phase in his life, Lynch, 48, remembers his time in Philadelphia fondly.
By the time the Sixers reached the 2001 NBA Finals against Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, they were a beat-up team with Lynch, Iverson, Snow and McKie playing on through significant injuries. They lost that series, 4-1.
“I say we beat that Lakers team if everyone was healthy,” Lynch said, “but that’s why you have to play the games and injuries are a part of it. We weren’t healthy, we didn’t win, and that’s the end of that chapter.
“That season was great. The fans were great. [Sixers president] Pat Croce had everyone involved. The city wanted to win. The team wanted to win.
“It was just a hard-working team in a hard-working city, and we embraced each other.”