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By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The failure of the 2012-13 Sixers is not an easy narrative to wrap your head around. It doesn’t fit in one sentence.
Andrew Bynum didn’t play. Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen didn’t progress the way you would have wanted them to. Jason Richardson got injured. They traded away their best perimeter and posts defenders and didn’t get much back in return.
The failure of Doug Collins as a coach is not the sole reason for a miserable season ending miserably. The failure of Doug Collins as a personnel guy is not the only cause of this disaster. This mess does not lay at Collins’ feet alone.
Some will tell you differently, but Doug Collins lost the Sixers locker room. This is not something that just happened this year, or just happened to Collins in Philadelphia. It might not be fair, but it’s the truth. It happened in the middle of last season and it never changed. Though it varied in degree depending on the player, it was widespread enough to call it a trend, and happened with both veterans and young players alike. The fact that as of Sunday night, Collins still hadn’t talked to his players about leaving says a lot about his relationship with them.
Though Collins promised he had mellowed out in his older years, he pushed the players too hard and in a way that just doesn’t work in the NBA. Not for very long, at least, and certainly not without wins.
He lost answers on the court as well, unable to make the pieces fit, and struggling both offensively and defensively.
Doug Collins is part of the reason for the failure of the team, and that’s why he could not continue in either capacity moving forward. A change at coach and in the front office is one of the few things ownership can do to move this thing forward.
The Serenity Prayer says you must accept the things you cannot change, have the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference. There is no owner in the world that can change Bynum’s knees, or speed up the progression of young players. But you can change the coach.
No one can be sure whether ownership is ultimately making this choice or Collins is, but it’s safe to say it’s best for both parties.
It didn’t just have to change for the organization, it had to change for the coach. It became quite obvious with every day that passed without Andrew Bynum on the court that Collins’ desire to have one really good team before he retired from coaching wasn’t going to happen this year. It’s not going to happen next year either.
A guy who attacked coaching with an obsession and a vigor that made you tired to just watch, looks like he’s aged 25 years in the last two. His meltdown after the loss at home to the Magic was an exclamation point on the end of the “Doug’s losing it” sentence.
It’s a shame for fans, the players, the owners, and the coach alike. The fans deserve a better product. The players endured a sort of basketball purgatory. The owners lose their safety net. And Collins doesn’t get to go out a winner.
It would be unfair to say there weren’t some great moments during the last three seasons. Lou Williams’ big three pointer against the Heat in the playoffs. Andre Iguodala’s big free throws against the Bulls. But both Williams and Iguodala are gone, and now so is Collins.
As is fitting, Collins quits and the season still isn’t even over yet. The season that just wouldn’t end still hasn’t.