Posted Jun 1 2009 5:42PM
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Eddie Jordan had been linked to the Philadelphia 76ers coaching job since December.
He was friends with team president Ed Stefanski from their days together in New Jersey, making him a natural contender to fill the first seat on the bench.
It just took Jordan until May to get the job.
The former Wizards and Kings coach was introduced in Philadelphia on Monday with a promise that his Princeton offense can turn the Sixers into Eastern Conference contenders.
"This team has a good core group, has future stars in the waiting, they've had playoff experience for two years," Jordan said. "Now it's time to go uptown."
The Sixers have been stuck in neutral ever since Allen Iverson led them to the NBA finals in 2001. Philadelphia went 41-41 this season and was eliminated in the first round by Eastern Conference champion Orlando.
The Sixers haven't won a playoff series since 2003, and Jordan is the team's third coach since the start of last season and sixth in six years.
His three-year contract should bring a dose of stability to a franchise with a promising nucleus of Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand and Thaddeus Young. Orlando, Cleveland and Boston all won playoff rounds this year with superstar players leading the way. Iguodala has never made an All-Star team and Brand has missed most of the last two seasons.
Jordan has faith a recovering Brand and a blossoming Iguodala can make the Sixers better in a hurry.
"I think we have two superstars already and you'll see that in the next season," Jordan said. "You'll see young players, still a relatively young team, become better."
The job has been open since Tony DiLeo stepped down on May 11 and returned to the front office. DiLeo took over in December for the fired Maurice Cheeks with the Sixers at 9-14.
Immediately, speculation turned to Jordan.
"I thought it was a little unfair, but I don't think Ed mentioned my name. It was everybody else," he said. "I wasn't interested at the time."
Following seven months of unemployment after Washington fired him after a 1-10 start, Jordan was ready to talk with Stefanski. Two days after DiLeo stepped down, Stefanski and Jordan had their first lengthy conversation.
Anticipating a vacancy, Jordan scouted the Sixers from home on TV this season.
"I paid maybe a little more attention to it, yeah," he said.
Jordan emerged as the winner among a group of candidates that included Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau, Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey and Sixers scout Chris Ford.
The Sixers also interviewed Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis and spoke with Villanova coach Jay Wright.
Stefanski insisted he kept his mind open during the nearly three-week search.
"There was no 'Eddie Jordan was going to be the coach and nobody else,"' Stefanski said.
Jordan is 230-288 with the Wizards and Sacramento Kings. In 2004-05 the Wizards won 45 games and a round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
He's not exactly the kind of hire that would energize a lukewarm fanbase.
"You can't make people happy," Stefanski said. "I don't know if I could ask the logo, Jerry West, or Pat Riley to come, I think the city I was born and raised in is going to find something wrong with them."
Jordan said former Wizards assistant Mike O'Koren and Sixers assistant Aaron McKie will likely join him on staff.
He plans will turn the Sixers into winners with his Princeton offense filled with backdoor cuts and sharp passing.
"If you're a basketball player with a basketball IQ, it will be easy to learn," Jordan said.
He won over Sixers management with a four-hour "chalk talk" portion of his second interview when he explained how each Sixer would fit in his system. Stefanski hoped that will include unrestricted free-agent point guard Andre Miller. With Brand, Marreese Speights, and Thaddeus Young in the frontcourt, erratic center Samuel Daelmbert might not be in the plans if he can't quickly adjust to the new scheme.
"If it doesn't happen, then you have other alternatives -- he can't play," Jordan said. "He may be just a spot player. If he doesn't accept that, then there are other alternatives."
Iguodala, guard Willie Green and center Jason Smith were on hand and threw their support behind Jordan.
"There's a formula for each team to win and we're going to find our formula," Jordan said.
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