Doug Collins Press Conference Transcript - 5/24/2010

Ed Stefanski: Opening Statement

“First off welcome everyone and a special welcome back home to Kathy Collins, Doug’s wife, his oldest daughter Kelly, Paul Romanczuk, a great player standout at Penn and grandchildren Cooper and Colin thanks for coming. Also Chris is here, Chris Collins everyone knows Chris from Duke; great player. Congratulations Chris for winning the championship and his lovely wife Kim and Kate and Ryan, their children. I also would like to thank through the negotiations and the weeks, John Langel, Doug’s attorney and friend, I appreciate it, John.

When we started this process, I mentioned to everyone that we wanted the kind of coach who was a teacher, a motivator, and a manager. They were the three items we were really looking for. So when Gene Shue, Tony DiLeo, and myself did treks across the country, and the reason we did that was not to get our frequent flyer numbers up, but a lot of these guys were still in the playoffs, either broadcasting or coaching. When we met Doug and sat in his home for a long period of time, it became clear to us what a teacher he was. You can hear in his telecasts, you know he’s one of the brightest and most knowledgeable guys out there. When you talk to people who he coached and people who he worked for, his knowledge of the game is second to none. Regarding his managerial skills, he is very detail-oriented, with no slippage. Accountability, which is dear to my heart, he’s like me. We dot the ‘I’s’ and cross the ‘t’s’. There’s no other way to do it. From a motivational standpoint, his passion for the game and how he will teach these guys and give them the extra that they need; he has it in him. You’ll see through his press conference the passion he has for this city and for the game is great. I’d like to introduce the next head coach for the Philadelphia 76ers, Doug Collins.”

Doug Collins: Opening Statement

“It is so good to be home again. 37 years ago I walked into Philadelphia, a kid from Benton, Illinois and 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 here last time. This is an incredible city. I learned to grow up here and I became a professional here. My first coach, Gene Shue, is here. He taught me about this game and what this game is about and so I’ve taken a lot of the knowledge Gene has imparted on me for the rest of my career. A lot of people say ‘why would you want to do this?’ and I say ‘why not?’.

This Sixers organization has been so good to me throughout the years. As I look back on the day I signed my professional contract in 1973, I’ve never gone to sleep wondering if I could pay the bills or take care of my family. That’s what basketball has done for me. It’s given me the greatest of thrills from high school to college to the Olympics to coaching to broadcasting. 40-plus years and I feel like I’m at the best time of my life as a human being right now. I’ve got an incredible wife, children, grandchildren, friends, and support group. I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and go to work because there are some nice young pieces in this organization. It’s like I’m the bus driver; I have to get the right people on the bus and, more importantly, get them all in the right seats. If we can do that, we’re going to win a lot of games. This team, a lot of people forget, was in the playoffs two straight years and won 41 games two years ago. You can’t be 12-29 at home, 6-20 against the East. That’s not going to get it done. We’re going to get a defensive-minded team, with speed and quickness. You need young pieces to do that with high energy; we have that. There are players on the team that I’m going to have to revitalize a bit and get their joy of the game back. When I look at the landscape of the Eastern Conference, everything is so fluid. So much is being made about this being the “Summer of Free Agency”, but there are only one or two guys that are going to dramatically change teams. By that I mean they can go there and you know there’s going to be a big bump. But when I look at the East, obviously Boston is the class of the Atlantic Division, but as we know that team is starting to get a little older. New York has a lot of cap money; we don’t know who they’re going to sign. New Jersey took a big hit when they lost a lotto ball, because they were looking to sell John Wall to a lot of free agents. Toronto is looking to see if they can still keep Chris Bosh in the fold. With that said, I feel very strongly that the Philadelphia 76ers can be very competitive and I promised Mr. Snider that they’re going to be a team when he watched them play, he was going to enjoy the game because the team was going to compete, play passionately, and make the fans get their money worth. If there’s anyone who knows the pulse speed of this city as an athlete, I do. I’ve been here and I know that if you play hard and play with joy and play as a team, these people will support you. I want to get that Wachovia Center back; I want the fans to come back, I want them to be happy about their team. We’re going to build it day-by-day and that’s the thing I love to do. I’m a builder. I guess the bigger the challenge the more it excites me. That’s what drives me. If you look at my career I’ve taken on challenges everywhere I’ve been. I went to Illinois State University then came to the Sixers. We were 9-73 (in 1973). In 1977 we went to the NBA Finals. I had the good fortune of playing in the Olympics. Went to the Chicago Bulls when they had won 30. Went to the Detroit Pistons when they had won 26. Went to the Washington Wizards when they had won 18. So I’ve never been in utopia when I took over. It was up to me to make it right, and that’s what I’ve tried to do. I’m going to promise you that I’m going to put all ounces of my energy into this position. I’ve been away from coaching for seven years, but in broadcasting with the preparation I do and the way I do my telecasts, I feel as though I’m coaching two teams every night that I broadcast. That’s the way that I prepare. I feel very up-to-date on what’s going on. I heard somebody say that maybe I’m too old and not in-touch with the modern-day player. Trust me; I’m in touch with the modern day player.

Chris is so happy now I’m not going to be down at Duke bothering him. I go to Archbishop Carroll and help Paul with his high school team. I helped Arizona State for a couple of years. I love to be in the gym and I love to teach and I’m proud to be a 76er once again.”

Q: How much do you feel like this is a return home, Doug?

Doug Collins: “World B. Free came over and gave me a big hug. I see Gene [Shue]. So many people, Allen Lumpkin was a ball-boy here when I was playing, now he’s practically running the organization. I was broadcasting the game last night, Phoenix and L.A., I caught a red-eye and I couldn’t sleep. As I was landing, I said ‘this is my home again’. I got in my car, driving by the Wachovia Center and the Spectrum, and had some great memories.”

Q: Ed, how does Doug go from not even being interviewed last year to the new coach this year?

Ed Stefanski: “I never had a different opinion of Doug, I’ve known him my whole life and he’s obviously a qualified candidate as I said last year publically. There were other people that we did interview last year. We had a list we felt comfortable with, and we went from there. Obviously, it was not the right decision and we rectified it.”

Doug Collins: “I would like to say through this process Ed’s been so great. I knew he’d have to interview a lot guys and do his due diligence. We spoke and I said, ‘Eddie, the only thing I ask you to do is the moment you find someone better, call me. Just keep me in the loop.’ He called me anywhere from every 24 to 48 hours or texted me and gave me an update. I really appreciated that because my personality is not to sit around for two or three weeks. Eddie always kept me in the loop. He promised me if he found someone he thought was better he’d let me know immediately and I appreciate that and that’s one of the reasons I am here, because of the way he treated me through this process.”

Q: Did you always want to get back into coaching?

Doug Collins: “I’d say the last four years I knew I was going to do it again. I’ve always felt it was good to get away for a while. I was at Chicago and then took off for six years and a big part of that was because I wanted to watch Chris and Kelly play their high school games and I knew id never get that time back. And so I waited six years and went to Michael [Jordan] three years after that and I knew I’d do it again, but there were only two cities I’d do it again; Chicago and Philadelphia. And that’s because both of those places I consider home. Kathy and I lived in Chicago for 10 years, Chris and Kelly went to high school there, they had some great memories there, and we have tremendous friends. Obviously, Philadelphia because we lived here for almost 10 years. My buddy Jaws [Ron Jaworski] here was my next-door neighbor. My reasons for that are because my wife has made a sacrifice for 37 years to be with me and if I was going to go somewhere, I wanted it to be right for her. And believe me, with her daughter living about 30 minutes away and Paul and all her grandkids, I knew she’d be very happy coming back to Philadelphia.”

Q: How far away do you think this team is?

Doug Collins: “I’m a numbers guy and I think numbers sometimes tell stories and sometimes they don’t. When you look at the NBA, when teams shoot 45% or better from the floor, what is their record? And if they shoot under that what is their record? With the Sixers, it’s not 45%, it’s 55%. They were 20-54 when they did not shoot 55% or better, 7-1 when they did. To me, that means the defense was not getting it done. This has to be a team that wins with their defense and when they played and were the 41-win team they got in the open court and got easy scores so their shooting wasn’t so much a liability. When you get into a half-court game, you don’t have great shooting. Coaches are very smart in this league and they know who to leave open. For me, I want to have a high-energy, very intense defensive team. If you look at my record, most of my teams have been very good defensively. It’s something we work on every day in practice. It’s something that becomes our calling card and keeps us together in tough times. I think Jrue Holiday has to be a terrific on the ball defender, that’s where it all starts. Andre Iguodala should be an all-league defensive player at small forward. I talked to Phil Jackson yesterday before the game and he was raving about how well Andre Iguodala plays against Kobe Bryant. He said, ‘that young guy has a lot of skill.’ We have to get Thaddeus back. He had a tough year this year, the year before he played terrific. And obviously Elton is going to be critical. My connections with Coach K and Duke and Chris and all, I already have a connection with Elton and hopefully get him playing the way I know he’s capable of. He’s had two tough years coming off the Achilles and the shoulder and he’s got to get healthy and feeling good about himself. Sam (Dalembert) with his shot blocking and rebounding. We have guys coming off the bench who can do some things, Marreese Speights and Lou Williams, Willie Green. Jodie Meeks played well at the end of the year. We have some pieces; it’s my job to put them all together. I think that last year was a perfect storm, that everything that could go wrong did. I’m hoping that this year we can get started the right way and guys can be excited to play and to want to be here and work and be with the Sixers.”

Q: You mentioned Aaron [McKie], you’ve coached Aaron before?

Doug Collins: “Yes I have. I think Aaron will be good for us. First he’s a Philly guy, loves his city, and has played for Coach Chaney. I’ve got a great feel about this He knows what the Sixers are all about, he played here and wore that jersey, and he’s good with the young guys. I think it’s important that the young guys have a guy like that, that can get on the floor and connect with them and be there for them and teach them and at the same time be that guy that can put his arm around them a little bit and love them through some ups and downs.”

Q: It’s clear that you’re going to teach, do you worry that these guys are going to be willing to learn?

Doug Collins: “Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve taught and guys have wanted to be taught. I’m a believer that deep down inside, these guys want to learn. I’m a positive guy. The big thing about it is you have to get in the gym and be around these guys, relationships don’t happen by accident, they happen on purpose. To create relationships there has to be a trust and when you trust, you have more of an idea to listen because at the end of the day if I can make these guys better players, they’re going to make more money, and if they’re better players they’re going to win more games, so everybody wins. I was taught by teachers, and if it’s one thing I have it’s a basketball mind and I try to pass it on and pay it forward.”

Q: What’s your biggest challenge with this team?

Doug Collins: “I think they have had a lot of coaches, they have heard a lot of different voices and I think getting in a room and having a conversation about what I would like to get accomplished and them sharing their thoughts. Then we get together and walk out on the floor and we have a common goal. We want to get better and this city is crying out for a good basketball team here. They want the Sixers to be relevant and that’s why I want to be here. I’m a builder. I take teams that are not playing to their potential and I try to get them to that point. We can then find the ceiling on the team and start making some moves to become a championship team, but first and foremost we have to get these guys playing to the maximum.”

Q: You mentioned Thaddeus [Young] and Elton [Brand] getting off track. How do you plan to reconnect with them and get them back on track?

Doug Collins: “I think Thaddeus last year never got comfortable where he was playing. I know he’s a little bit of an undersized forward, but I think that’s where his best match-up is because the game has gone to almost an international game now. Where you have one post player and four perimeter guys and you have a drive and kick game. Your four man stretches the floor. You see a Lamar Odom, a Rashard Lewis, a Dirk Nowitzki; these guys are perimeter players. To me when Andre [Iguodala] is a two and Thaddeus [Young] is a three, they are both out of position. To me Thaddeus [Young] is a four and Andre [Iguodala] is a three. Those two guys play very well together, they’ve won 41 games, they got out on the floor, they ran the open court and played to their strengths. I thought last year it just didn’t fit for them.

Q: Do you see Elton [Brand] as a high post five?

Doug Collins: “Yes, I think he’s a pick and pop guy if you go back to his days with the Clippers. Elton [Brand] is an undersized power player and when I coached against him, I played him with my center and took away his post by putting a bigger guy behind him. You have to get involved with pick and rolls, get him out running the floor, having him catch and shift the ball and drag that big guy away from the basket. I think Elton [Brand] has that. I want to 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. We got George McGinnis, Julius [Erving], and then we got Mo Cheeks. This city became alive with basketball and it can happen quickly.”

Q: If you had to pick one component that this team is lacking, is it the killer two guard?

Doug Collins: “Yeah, were also lacking toughness. Mental and physical, we have to add toughness. To me it’s one of the most underrated skills.”

Q: Is there any concern about the amount of pressure that is being pressed on Jrue Holiday?

Doug Collins: “I’ll take that off of him. I’m not going to have this ride and fall on Jrue [Holiday]. I think it’s great to have a great upside, potential is a wonderful thing but it also has to be grown. The thing he does better than I thought he would is shoot the three; I didn’t think he would shoot at 38 percent. If he can spot up and make that three and Andre [Iguodala] is driving and kicking it - changes the whole game.

Q: What did you see from Iguodala last year as you watched him?

Doug Collins: “I didn’t see that same hard edge that I saw the year before. I didn’t see that tough competitive edge because he can be very tough and he can bring toughness to this team. To me, if he’s an all league defender at the three spot that means that we’re going to be able to get out and run. That’s what he does best; I want him to get to the foul line. 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.”

Q: Does the experience you have with Kwame Brown help you with these younger kids?

Doug Collins: “Everybody is different. Some guys adapt and do well and others don’t. I don’t think it was anything I personally did because Kwame [Brown] went on to a lot of other places and I don’t think anybody else reached him either. It’s not like he went somewhere else and he did great. To me, if you love the game and you like to be in the gym then you’ll like to be around me.”

Q: The last few coaches here have been considered to be players coaches; do you think they need somebody tougher?

Doug Collins: “What you need is accountability and responsibility and guys that are on time everyday, they come to practice, they do their work, and they get a joy from that. Every place I’ve even been we set the guideline of how were going to do things and I don’t ever have players who are late and miss planes. They’re on time for practice because they know that if they’re not they don’t fit in.”

Q: Williams and Speights are known for their offense; can you develop that?

Doug Collins: “Lou [Willams] is a guy that can come in and score, but I want him to also understand that I’m going to need to do something on the other end as well. The same thing with Speights; if you want to be able to play the last eight minutes of the game, you can’t just score You have to be able to play the other end as well. A closing team is so important in the NBA. The last seven minutes is what you are always coaching to get to. Now you have your team set, you have the match ups you want, you have your time outs, your chance to finish the game, and that’s my job to get us to that position during the course of the game. Lou [Williams] and Marreese [Speights] both have talent there’s no question about that. I want to make sure that Marreese gets in great shape. Three things I always do when I go to a place. I can never tell what kind of talent is going to be there, but we can be well conditioned, well prepared, and competitive. Those three things we can do and then if you have some talent we can win some games.”

Q: How much of a change in the roster would you need to get the players you need?

Collins: “I don’t think that much. Eddie (Stefanski) and I have spoken, but we haven’t really had a chance to sit down and talk about it. I’m sure he’s been on the phone and made phone calls, but as it gets towards draft time, the phones start ringing with possible deals and guys who want to move things. So you do all your due diligence, but we haven’t really talked about it. As soon as I’m done with my broadcasting we’re going to sit down, he’s going to give me the lay of the land and where he feels like we need to head. It’s not going to be a quick fix. You can’t take any shortcuts. If you’re going to be good you have to put the work in.”

Q: What is the best path for this organization?

Collins: “What you try and find out is who in this group that you have now are capable of starting on teams that are really, really good. I won’t know that until we get into the gym and I can work with them and start to get a feel for who can be a starter on a playoff team or who can be a starter on a championship team. I really can’t say until I get into the gym. When I was in Chicago, we had Michael Jordan. Nobody knew how good he was; I didn’t know how good he was until I was with him. I also had Charles Oakley - we really had two pieces. We won 40 games my first year, then we won 50. My second year, we got lucky; you have to have some luck. We got Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant. We had young players and they were good for ten years and won six championships. You don’t do short fixes. When you have a young Jrue Holiday, you have the No. 2 pick, Thaddeus is a young player; you have some young pieces. Then if you have to add veterans to get over the top you do that. I know that Mr. Snider has paid the freight to have a good team. I know he will pay to have a championship team in Philadelphia. That’s a very comforting feeling as a coach, that he wants us to be really good.”

Q: How do you go about fixing three-point shooting and defense?

Collins: “Defending the three has become such a big part of the game. If you’re watching the playoffs with Boston, their key is taking away the three-point shooting from Orlando. How are they doing that? They are able to get into the post against Dwight Howard. Three or four different guys are getting physical with him. They’ve made him play over the top and take away his dunks. They haven’t double teamed him so you’re not scrambling to guard the three-point shooters. The more you can play heads-up on people and keep the ball in front of you; you’re not getting broken down. If you watch the Lakers, last night I did a little video piece before the game started about how the Laker big guys were showing out and Derek Fisher fighting over and chasing behind Nash and how they’ve really taken the three-point shot away from phoenix. Phoenix shot 41% in the regular season. They were the best in the history of the NBA at the line the way it stands and against the Lakers they’re shooting around 33%. It has to be a focus and it has to be a practice, and there has to be trust. Guys have to be on a string; if I help you, you help me. But the only way you can do that is practice. I told Eddie (Stefanski) the thing I like about this team is we don’t have a lot of older players; that means you can practice. I’m a big practice guy.

Q: Does this stabilize this organization?

Stefanski: “I think we had a hell of a week last week. We got real fortunate and lucky at Secaucus with the No. 2 pick. I’m looking up at the stage during the commercial break at the owner of the Nets and Mrs. Pollin and Jrue Holiday and I’m saying, “wow, we’re going to get the third pick” then “wow, we’re going to get the second pick” then I’m looking at Jrue Holiday, who has huge upside. With the second pick and Jrue Holiday, if it’s a backcourt guy, that’s a hell of a backcourt for years to come. Getting commitment from Doug Collins to lead our team, too. So yeah, we had a real good week. We’re going in the right direction. And I feel real comfortable where we are right now.

Collins: “I just want to share one thing with you about how quickly things change. The two teams who look like they’re on a head-on collision for the NBA Finals are the Lakers and Boston. Doc Rivers took over in Boston and they had nothing. They had a bunch of young players, Kendrick Perkins, Al Jefferson, Paul Pierce and they lost in the lottery. They did not get one or two so they would not get Oden or Durant. They had the fifth pick and Danny Angie said ‘I can’t bring any more players in; I have to get a veteran’. So he trades the fifth pick for Ray Allen. Now all of a sudden Kevin Garnett is still there, and they’re trying to trade for him. So they take an expiring contract, Theo Ratliff, and Al Jefferson, a big guy who’s young, and they get Garnett. The year before they lost 18 in a row, that year they won 18 in a row and the NBA Championship. The Lakers a few years ago had 42 wins. They got beat by the Suns; I did the game broadcast. They lost game 5 in Phoenix, they got run out. Kobe was about to explode. That’s when he that he wanted to be traded. He wanted them to trade Bynum. They held onto Bynum, there was a tragedy with Derek Fisher, his daughter got eye cancer. Larry Miller, out of the greatness of his heart, let him go back closer to certain doctors. So you get Fisher back with Kobe, you have Bynum, and then they get Pau Gasol in a trade, and that’s how quickly things change. So in this business you have to prepare yourself to be lucky. Lucky doesn’t just happen, you have to prepare yourself and then you have to hope that someone will maybe give you that piece to put you over the top. That’s what this business is all about. That’s what Eddie Stefanski and Tony [DiLeo] and all those guys do behinds the scenes, hopefully to make something like that happen in Philadelphia.

Q: Do you feel this team has the pieces to make a move like the Celtics or Lakers did?

Collins: “We’re not ready to be a championship team right now. People are asking me why I’d come here. I don’t think we’re talking championship right now. I think we’re talking about being relevant again. I want the Sixers to be on the people’s tongues here in Philadelphia. Jay Wright at Villanova has put the pressure on us, Fran Dunphy at Temple. These teams are playing great basketball. I want the Sixers to be the basketball team here that the people want to see. I love Villanova and Temple, but this is a pro town. This city loves pro basketball. This is one of the signature franchises in the NBA. We need to get back and relevant. It’s not going to be knee-jerk because if it’s quick it won’t last. We have to build something that’s going to last. Something with a core of seven, eight, nine years and see how that plays itself out. When you start making those quick fixes, it doesn’t last.”

Q: What have you learned about the game from broadcasting?

Collins: “I have a very active mind, sometimes too active. I always think, ‘if I was coaching that particular team tonight and I was playing against that opponent, how would I attack them? What would my matchups be? How would I want to sub? How am I putting myself in the right position with eight minutes left in the game? How am I playing to my strengths?’ I believe you coach ahead, not coach behind. That’s the way I coach and that’s the way I broadcast. I try and set it up for what’s happening ahead, not necessarily what’s happening behind. The NBA is a point-guard driven league. It used to be dominated by big men, but now it’s dominated by point-guards. That’s why I’m excited, because we have a terrific young point guard to help build around. I know he’s a humble young guy and if it wants to age me a little bit, I will, but I coached his dad at Arizona State.”

Q: How much unfinished business do you have in the NBA?

Collins: “I’ve never really felt that it’s unfinished business. It’s a passion I have that I still want to do. I think Eddie (Stefanski) said it before; I consider myself a teacher first and foremost and I’m passionate. I love to see guys on the floor and I love watching them get better. I was talking to Grant Hill a bit yesterday, but Grant Hill is still playing. He made a comment that when he was with me as a young player by learning how to play he can still play at 37 when he doesn’t have the same skills. We drafted Theo Ratliff out of Wyoming and he is still playing. To me, when you teach a young guy to play, you saw the huddles yesterday. It’s a coach’s dream when Fish and Kobe were in the huddle and they were talking to each other, trying to figure things out. They were taking ownership of their team and when you teach the game you can turn ownership over. Guys feel comfortable doing that, so that’s what I’ve always done. It’s not like I have any itch that I’m trying to scratch about winning a championship. I’m lucky to get into my own home. Paul won a State Championship two years ago at Archbishop Carroll. Chris has two National Championships and a gold medal and I don’t have anything.”

Q: Is there a different way you have to coach young players?

Collins: “I think that all players want to be coached, they want to learn. Players today did not grow up with tough coaches like I did. So, to me, they’re ultra-sensitive. You teach and coach in a positive way without being personal. You have to teach it from the standpoint of ‘I want you to get better’. Sometimes, I’ll preface it by saying ‘you know what, Jrue, I love you to death as a kid, but I can’t stand those two turnovers you just made. So let’s do better with those turnovers. But I love you as a kid’. I think there’s an incredible balance in truth and love. I think too much truth is not good, and too much love is not good. I think you have to have truth and love and they have to balance. I think the best players I’ve ever been around have wanted to know the truth.”

Q: Do you have a system set for this team?

Collins: “That doesn’t work. You can’t just take this group and play this way. What you have to do is say ‘what do I have and how can I build around that?’ Every year that I’ve coached, I’ve run almost different system because I’ve never had the same team. That’s what coaches have to do. They have to adjust and play to their different personnel. Like Duke this year; Duke won a National Championship. They have never played with two big guys together. That’s the first time ever Coach K has ever done that and they won the National Championship because that’s what they had to do to take advantage of their talent. That’s what good coaches do; you try and maximize your skill and minimize your weakness and that’s my job. I can’t ask a guy to do something he’s not capable of doing. If Jason Kapono’s in the game I have to help him get shots just like Terry Mills was in the game in Detroit I had to help him get shots. But if he can shoot I have to help him get open.”

Q: What is the status of your staff?

Collins: “I’m working on it right now. Eddie has Ok’d most of it, but I don’t want to announce it just yet, but we’ll get it soon and hope we can get guys in here. I want my coaches at the practice facility so I’ll start seeing them and connecting with them. I am going to keep Aaron McKie. I want him to be here. He is one of my favorite guys I had in Detroit. I think he’s all about Philadelphia. I think he did a great job last year, from my understanding, mentoring Jrue and some of the younger kids and I want him here.

Q: What do you need to make Andre Igudoala take that next step?

Collins: “I want him to think about being a first-team all-league defender at the three spot. I think the three-spot is his best spot and I think he has an advantage there in speed. He’s strong and you have to get him going to the basket. I don’t want him to have to live on 17 or 18-foot jump shots. I want it to be something he can do, but I don’t want him living on that. I want him getting to the foul line more. I looked at his numbers last year, I think 305 three’s, a little over 400 free throws. I’d like that to be 200 threes and 500 free throws, and then I know he’s attacking and getting to the rim. I want him to know how important it is to get easy points. When you get to the line, you stop the game. You get your defense up the floor. It looks to me we’re going to have some pretty good depth, which means there’s competition. The greatest thing there is in sports is playing time.”

Q: What was is about Doug that convinced you that defensively he was the guy?

Ed Stefanski: “We had a very long session at his home and we went through all of the philosophies that we wanted to get through but we emphasized the defense side of the ball. If you listen to his broadcast he knows the game of basketball. Defensively he understands our talent and where the pluses and minuses were. He knew that the way we were set up that we should be an excellent defensive team. He will adapt to the personal there’s not just one style that he believes in, he’s going to adapt to who we have.”

Q: The last coach was known as the players coach so you think you need more of a disciplinarian?

Ed Stefanski: “We want to hold these guys accountable but I think that with his passion and knowledge of the game the players will respond to that. The one thing that I have seen since I’ve been in the NBA is that the players want to be coached, there’s no doubt about it, the majority of players want to be coached and they will see that with his knowledge that he can make them better. That’s the bottom line. We want to get better and the team wants to get better, but individual players want to improve their skills and there’s no question that Doug does that to players.”

Q: At the end of the season Andre [Iguodala] was very disenchanted. Have you talked to Doug [Collins] about trying to bring him back in?

Ed Stefanski: “He said that he needs to revitalize some people; I know Thaddeus [Young] is one of them, I know Marreese Speights and Elton [Brand] he talked about. I would say he is very high on Iguodala’s skill level. I think he wants to sit down with him and talk to him about his role and who he is but, he likes Iguodala. He thinks he’s better at the three than any other position but he is high on the skill level.”

Q: What do you think he [Collins] can do as far as Elton [Brand].

Ed Stefanski: “I think that Doug [Collins] will tell you that we have to make sure that Elton [Brand] gets in a position where he can be the best player he can be. Where are his strengths, where can he get his best shots from? Doug [Collins] knows that and will try to get him in position to get that but we had numerous times in the first half where Elton [Brand] would have a strong game and not get as many shots in the second half. He’ll play the hot hand and I’ve talked to Elton [Brand] and he’s very happy Doug [Collins] is the guy.

Q: Doug Collins’ hallmark is that he gets teams to play on attitude.

Ed Stefanski: “We didn’t show the toughness we needed to show and I think we have to. Doug Collins will get that out or we will have to make changes.”

Q: What’s your gut feeling on this?

Ed Stefanski: “I think some guys regressed last year. You can’t tell me that Thaddeus Young isn’t a good basketball player after when I came here I traded Korver to get him on the floor. He responded beautifully. He played great in his second year and you could say he was the best player in the two playoff series the year before. To go to where he was last year doesn’t make any sense at all. Speights needs a guy like Doug Collins. Speights is a terrific offensive player but he needs to play the other end. When he said he was going to revitalize these guys I think Elton [Brand] is a big part of that and I think he’s going to pull out all of the stops with Duke and Coach K. I think that benching and the way he was handled probably hurt him a bit.”

Ed Snider

Q: How do you feel about the state of the team?

A: “We’re stable. We’ve got a great coach, going in the right direction, the No. 2 pick helps. We feel pretty good about the Sixers right now.”

Q: Are you’re comfortable with your President and General Manager?

A: “Of course I am.”

Q: Doug last year maybe wasn’t really a candidate, this year he’s the right guy. Do you wish he had been front and center last year?

A: We don’t have to look back. I’m just looking forward.

Q: What’s it been like for you the last month or so with the Flyers success and now the Sixers?

A: “It’s been a great run. We’re seeing a Flyers game when we’re winning and then watching the Sixers get the No. 2 pick during the game was one of the great nights of all time. It’s just terrific.”

Q: With as much as you put into these organizations, does it bother you when people say that this is the second project and that you don’t care about the Sixers?

A: “I can understand people saying it because we haven’t had success. From my point of view, I work just as hard for both of these franchises and support the General Managers of these franchises identically, so we’re not skimping in any way. We want to win. We just haven’t done the job we want to do. I think listening to Doug Collins, knowing him, knowing what he’s accomplished in his lifetime, for the very first time in a long time, I feel very confident that this organization is going in the right direction.

Q: Are you getting to the point you are at with the Flyers with the Sixers?

A: “Paul Holmgren of course has been with our organization. He took a break from being a coach and General Manager in Hartford, but mostly he’s been with the Flyers. He worked at the assistant General Manager under Bob Clarke, he knows our philosophy, he knows how we want to play, he knows the type of player we like, and you need that. I think now we are on the road to having that with the Sixers and we want to do more. I was thrilled when Gene Shue came in as a consultant in the negotiations. Gene (Shue) and I sat next to each other at the University of Maryland, our alma mater, we were classmates, so it’s a great feeling all the way around.”

Gene Shue

Q: What kind of guy is Collins to have in your huddle?

Gene Shue: I’ve always liked Collins; in what he stands for. He has great insights about the game and is great with statistics which I think are very important.”

Q: What does this mean know when you see one of the kids you helped develop as a player now out there coaching this team?

Gene Shue: “I think Doug [Collins] is going to do a great job; he’s part of Philadelphia, he’s a Sixer. That’s a big part of the history of the team and it’s a wonderful feel. I think he’ll do a great job.”

Aaron McKie

Q: Do they need a lot of teaching?

Aaron McKie: “You have to have somebody to capture their attention. It’s like being a car salesman. You have to get people to buy into what you are trying to sell and Doug [Collins] is that guy. You listen to him on the television and on his broadcast and you’re locked in. You’re not just watching the game, but you’re locked in to what he’s saying. I think we have a good core of young guys who really like basketball and really enjoy playing but I think they need a path. He can give them some kind of direction.

Q: At the end of last season Iguodala seemed disenchanted. How did you see that and have you talked to Doug [Collins] about it?

Aaron McKie: “I haven’t had any conversations about any of the players or basketball yet. I think that’s just Andre’s body language. If you guys see him on the court at any time jumping around and happy please show me. It’s his body language and sometimes that can be misinterpreted. Everybody goes about it in a different way. That’s Andre [Iguodala]. He’s going to work and put that extra work in. I think sometimes it gets very discouraging when things are not going your way and you lose sometimes. People have different ways of showing it. His is in his body language and how he looks.

Q: What is the biggest strength when you are coaching?

Aaron McKie: “I think it’s passion, the attention to details – those are the things I have always been big on.”

Q: You are a defensively minded guy. Can you teach it? Can he teach it?

Aaron McKie: “Absolutely, if you’re in this league for a long time you have to go in and work on defense everyday, as an individual and as a team.”

Q: How did you feel when you saw that you got the No. 2 pick?

Aaron McKie: “I think it could change the focus and the franchise. Its all speculation at this point now, but we’re hoping the No. 2 pick can put your team on the map.

Peter Luukko

Q: What determined Ed Stefanski was the guy?

A: “I think we wanted to evaluate the whole organization obviously and Ed (Stefanski) being a big part of it, but you know Ed (Stefanski) is our General Manager. He has been working hard. He made a great process here; not only were we able to interview other potential candidates and try to make the right decision, but also we moved very quickly when it was apparent to us this was the perfect fit for our team now. Ed (Stefanski) never stopped working and he is our General Manager, he is our guy.

Q: Was there a point where you brought him in and said to keep going?

A: “He always kept going. We never told him to stop and when you have a disappointing season as we did, I think one of the things I have learned in this business over the years is you have to take a couple weeks away from it, a couple steps back and try and get the emotions out of you and then begin to build it back as a good solid basketball team.”

Q: It seemed like he didn’t get a good vote of confidence. Is that true?

A: “I don’t think we were giving ourselves a vote of confidence let alone Ed (Stefanski). We had a very very disappointing year in a year we expected to go to the next step so again we all just kind of stopped at the end of the year and said, ‘hey what do we need to do?’ Coach Jordan was let go and then Ed (Stefanski) began the process.”

Q: How do you feel about the turnaround of both teams?

A: “From the outhouse to the penthouse. Just to get into the playoffs the last day of the season and win in a shootout and then come back against Boston and to get the No. 2 overall pick in the lottery, then hire a guy of Doug’s caliber. Things couldn’t be better right now.”

Q: Did you have reservations that Doug Collins should have been interviewed last year?

A: “I mean you don’t have reservations if you are in my position because you let the basketball guys do their job. Ed (Stefanski) made it very clear that this time around he certainly wanted to interview Doug (Collins) and Doug (Collins) would be a prime candidate for us.”

Q: Did a coaching change work for you guys (the Flyers) so you thought it would work here?

A: Yeah it is going to work. You can just see his passion. When we were playing well a couple years ago and playing well defensively and learning to play well defensively and running the ball…to hear what Doug said is music to our ears.”

Q: Since Larry Brown left you have had 8 Sixers Coaches in 7 years. What are your thoughts on that?

A: “That is something we can’t have in this organization. It has been very disappointing. You can’t create an identity in an organization with that much instability so that is why you bring in a guy of Doug’s caliber. We expect him to be here for years.”

Q: What determined Ed Stefanski was the guy?

A: “I think we wanted to evaluate the whole organization obviously and Ed (Stefanski) being a big part of it but you know Ed (Stefanski) is our GM he has been working hard. He made a great process here, not only were we able to interview other potential candidates and try to make the right decision but also we moved very quickly when is was apparent to us this was the perfect fit for our team now. So Ed (Stefanski) never stopped working and he is our GM, he is our guy.

Q: What there a point where you brought him in and said to keep going?

A: “Well he always kept going, we never told him to stop and when you have a disappointing season as we did I think one of the things I have learned in this business over the years is you have to take a couple weeks away from it, a couple steps back and try and get the emotions out of you and then begin to build it back as a good solid basketball business a good team business.”

Q: It seemed like he didn’t get a good vote of confidence…

A: “Well I don’t think we were giving ourselves a vote of confidence let alone Ed (Stefanski). We had a very very disappointing year in a year we expected to go to the next step so again we all just kind of stopped at the end of the year and said hey what do we need to do? Coach Jordan was let and then Ed (Stefanski) began the process and he ran a good one and e are just thrilled to have that.”

Q: Six weeks ago things were in dire for both teams and now to be in the position you are on the last day of the season to get into the playoffs and now the number 2 pick.

A: “I have said a little bit about from the outhouse to the penthouse. Just to get into the playoffs the last day of the season and win in a shootout and then come back against Boston and to get the number 2 overall pick in the lottery then hire a guy of Doug’s caliber things couldn’t be better right now.”

Q: Did you have reservations that Doug Collins should have been interviewed last year?

A: “I mean you don’t have reservations if you are in my position because you let the basketball guys do their job. Ed (Stefanski) made it very clear that this time around he certainly wanted to interview Doug (Collins) and Doug (Collins) would be a prime candidate for us.”

Q: Did a coaching change work for you guys (the Flyers) so you thought it would work here?

A: Yeah it is going to work you can just see his passion. When we were playing well a couple years ago and playing well defensively and learning to play well defensively and running the ball and to hear what Doug said is music to our ears.”

Q: Since Larry Brown left you have had 8 Sixers Coaches in 7 years…

A: “That is something we can’t have in this organization that has been very disappointing. You can’t create an identity in an organization with that much instability so that is why you bring in a guy of Doug’s caliber we expect him to be here for years.”

Q: Why did you choose Doug Collins?

A: “I think it was important to bring stability to the organization. We’ve had too many coaches in the past two years and that isn’t good. To bring Doug in and hear him talk about defense and running the ball, that’s the success we’ve had with these teams and that’s very important.”

Q: As far as Ed (Stefanski’s) search was concerned, traveling all over the country and meeting with a bunch of people, were you set on Doug?

A: “No, it was an open search. Ed (Stefanski), Gene Shue, and Tony DiLeo did a lot of homework on a number of candidates. Doug (Collins) certainly was a frontrunner coming in because of his experience, because of who he is, and also the added bonus of him being, basically, a Philadelphian and playing here. We ran an open process, I think what Ed (Stefanski) did very well is that he interviewed a number of candidates, but did it quickly. When it was clear that Doug (Collins) was the best candidate for our team at this time, we were able to move quickly. You try to not have a long, drawn out process because I don’t think that’s fair to any of the candidates.”

Q: As far as Ed (Stefanski) is concerned, was he going to be the guy making this decision regardless?

A: “He’s never not been the guy. He’s our General Manager and when the season ended he just started to work on the future.”

Q: Right, but obviously something had to be different than last year…

A: “I don’t think so; it was a really similar process.”

Q: Why did you choose Doug Collins?

A: “If you talk to our basketball guys, he’s been very successful teaching young players, and we’ve got a young team. Also, teaching young defense, both defense and the offensive end of the court. I believe he’s the perfect fit for where we are right now. Our up and coming team underachieved last year, but with a lot of upside now, as bad as the year was last year, Jrue Holiday got a chance to play a lot and now we’re going to bring in a No. 2 pick. This organization has not had close to that high of a pick since Allen Iverson.”

Q: What happened last season?

A: “I think we lost our identity last year and we need to bring it back. I think with the type of person Doug (Collins) is and him being a former Sixer, is going to help create an identity for this team. Doug will create that identity.”

Q: Did you guys ever talk to Larry Brown?

A: “No, we never asked permission.”


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