Around the NBA: Reputation - 4/2/11

April 2, 2011
Nick Matkovich

Chicago Bulls
Sixers Head Coach Doug Collins greets Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers. PHOTO: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

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  • Reputations come in all shapes and sizes, connotations favorable and poor. For better or worse a reputation is how people perceive one another. Doug Collins has a reputation as a head coach in the NBA.

    He isn’t the “screw the women and children, I’m important enough to be on the first lifeboat when the ship goes down,” basketball drifter who skips town at the first blush with trouble.

    Nor has Collins owned the overly self-effacing act that Jeff Van Gundy developed in New York, fine-tuned in Houston and now makes famous as his shtick on ABC and ESPN.

    Collins’ reputation is far more burdensome that the other two. (Unless you expected him to tug at his red tie and cry, ‘no respect, no respect at all,’ like Van Gundy). Collins could be known as the dreaded Point A to Point B Coach. The label is that of the organization resuscitator, the guy to breathe life into a moribund franchise, proprietor of the NBA’s version of the Lazarus Act.

    While such coaching attributes might make Collins the coach most likely to turn water into G3, his reputation can be troubling: The Point A to Point B Coach almost never gets his team to Point C because he isn’t afforded the opportunity. Point C as in championships, as in what the Bulls won six of in eight years after Collins was fired over philosophical differences by management and replaced by assistant coach Phil Jackson.

    Point A to Point B (or PATPB) coaches have teams with marked improvements in their first season as Collins did with the Bulls, and later the Pistons where the team improved its win total by 18 games in his first season as head coach.

    These guys are the quick-fixers when it seems all hope has dissipated in regards to the organization regaining relevance. They bring competency to the incompetent.

    Yet the brief run Collins had in Chicago and Detroit (Side note: In all fairness to Collins, his tenure in Washington was something different as Michael Jordan has been suggested as the person calling all the shots) ended with him being, according to the media, burnt out and quickly wearing out his welcome in those two cities as the head man.

    Does a coach like Collins lose his appeal relatively quickly in each stop? Do speeches ring a little more hallow? Does his supposed pleading to be at best a little more annoying than motivational?

    Collins is familiar with the criticism and critiques of his coaching ability, so how are things going to be different in Philadelphia? Most importantly, how will things end differently in comparison to previous stops?

    There is no denying his ability to teach the game. His work as a color commentator on national broadcasts gave him the forum to competently and intelligently dissect and discuss a game for the viewing audience.

    Hopefully his work behind the microphone served Collins well in this, his fourth stop as a head coach. Watching a wide ranges of coaches handle their teams, deal with specific problems and see how they  relate to players differently on the sidelines. To take nothing away from such an up-close, objective experience would seem impossible for someone like Collins who is inflicted with the Coaching Itch, like all of his contemporaries in the game (Disease not found on WebMD). 

    Right now, the 76er’s are playing true to the form of any of Collins’ previous teams. The team has 13 more wins than last season and after a horrific 3-13 start to the season, Philadelphia is the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. Their season is highlighted by wins against the Bulls, Magic, and Spurs. Collins deserves considerable merit for Coach of the Year, especially after how the team began the season.  

    For all the year one success, the complete story of Collins’ tenure won’t be clear until the middle of his second season. Will he mellow? How will the players respond to him during a slide next season? Only time and an extended run will help Collins shake the reputation as a PATPB coach. Breaking such a reputation can be daunting, but so is a 3-13 start to the season.

    Note: These are the views of Nick Matkovich. Thoughts and opinions expressed in this articles are not necessarily the views of the Milwaukee Bucks