Doug Collins Steps Down, Finally Shows the Right Way to Lead

Doug Collins will reportedly step down as Philadelphia 76ers' Head Coach after the season.The Philadelphia 76ers started this season with a lot of promise and a huge question mark. The promise came from last seasons playoff berth, the expected improvement of Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner, and the arrival of Andrew Bynum. The huge question was when Bynum would allow the 76ers to put the complete package on the floor. It never happened.

In a season that saw the team dominated by any type of big man in the post, Doug Collins refused to put rookie Arnett Moultrie on the floor. When he’s been on the floor, however limited the time has been, Moultrie has produced. The problem is that he’s not on the floor enough, even though the team was consistently being beaten up down low. Spencer Hawes, while a good player, is not the guy to go at it in the paint with other big men. He’s more adept to stepping back and taking his man out of the lane. Lavoy Allen is at best a 10th man on any team, yet Collins insisted on giving him consistent minutes game after game, even with limited production. In this area Doug Collins has failed.

Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday were supposed to have breakout seasons now that Andre Iguodala was shipped out of town in the Bynum deal. Holiday exploded early in the year and fizzled after appearing in his first All-Star game this season. While he’s had a hard time during the second half of the year, he’s still been the best player on the floor and is the future of the franchise. Evan Turner? Not so much. It’s time to cut our losses with the former #2 overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft. While he has shown some flashes during the season it seems that every time he started to gain some momentum, Nick Young was put on the floor and it hurt Turners game. Young took away too much from Turners development this year. In this area Doug Collins has failed.

Overall, he was given a team of slashers with a couple of gunners and supposed to make it work while they waited for Bynum to get over his knee issue. Then Bynum went bowling and there was a second knee issue. Then Bynum, finally, was given up on and sent for surgery. The 76ers kept firing away, per Collins orders, as if there was a 7 foot 300 lb center down low ready to devour all the rebounds. The only problem is that Thaddeus Young, the best rebounder on the team is a small forward and Spencer Hawes is not known for working in the paint.  Normally, a coach would recognize that their system isn’t working and switch it around to play to his players strengths. In this area Doug Collins has failed.

The only thing that I can say that Collins has done correctly towards the end of the season is that he’s deflected the questions of his return next year and instead preached about finishing the season strong, focusing on the players and games at hand, and not concerning himself with his job until the season was over. Now, as it turns out, (if sources are to be believed) Collins has informed the team that he won’t be back as coach next season. In this area Collins has succeeded in being a leader.

Here’s my issue with the whole idea of Collins as coach. He’s never really done anything to warrant being called or known as a great coach. Yet, and you’ll hear this a lot as this season in Philly is being debated, people will have you believe he’s Phil Jackson. He’s never won anything. He’s improved the teams he’s coached, but never had continued success. So, why should we continue to support Collins as the coach? Because he was a good player 40 years ago? Because he was a tough player? Because he’s competitive? There are plenty of competitive and tough players that aren’t any good in the league. There are plenty of coaches as well that aren’t any good. Doug Collins simply isn’t that good of a coach.

The attacks are already starting on Collins. He’s lied to the press. He’s continued to say that he’s focusing on games at hand and the end of the season. His attorney, on Sunday, said that Collins was the coach and would be back for next season. That’s what a coach is supposed to do. That’s what a coach’s lawyer is supposed to do. It’s a team sport and you don’t take away from the team. Distractions ruin teams and the last thing the team needed at the end of this season was another one as they played out the schedule with a lame duck coach that had already given notice or was known to be fired. If Collins has taught this team anything, and it will remain with the players that stay here next season, it’s that no one man should be perceived to be bigger than the team.

By shunning the scribes in town and refusing to acknowledge anything that had to do with his job coaching the Sixers next season, he’s no doubt going to be skewered by them. That’s what you’re going to hear from now on. How Collins has hurt the team, hurt the city, hurt his players, etc. The truth is, that in the end, Collins was not the best fit for leading this team in the future, but as it comes to a close he did the best thing that a coach could do and reminded everyone to focus on the games at hand, improving as a team, and winning as many basketball games as you can, together. In his last days with the team Collins should be lauded for not becoming a distraction, for not bowing to the pressures of the local beat writers and for doing what he thought was best for the only people that matter, his team.

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Tim Sullivan

Born and raised in Fishtown. Bleeds Philly sports. You can follow him on Twitter @IrishTim74.