The Madness of Doug Collins


Who is this worn and bitter man we see holding a moribund court with Philly press after each loss? Disdainful of his team, disdainful of the reporters, perceiving the specter of doo-doo stirring intrigue around every corner.

What happened to the loving, intense, motivator who breathed life into this aimless roster 3 seasons ago? Where is that caffeinated hug machine who would whip his team into a frothy playoff fervor, even in the most trifling of match-ups?

Thad collins, hug igoudala collins hugCollins hugs louCollins nocioni hug

Doug Collins huggig turner

These Sixers teams haven’t been great, but man did they play hard (past tense). While the final record didn’t look so different from the tepid campaigns of 2000’s, the team had a certain spark. last season, attendance spiked to ar espectable 13th in the league, highest since the 2005 season and the waning prime of Iverson.

It was a .500 team but It was the kind of scrappy, underdog .500 team this town loves to root for. So strong was his imprint that the new ownership group crafted a team slogan that basically read “Doug Collins”


today, not so much…collins sad

It’s been a rough stretch, for sure. But it is curious to see Doug this lost to despair. After all this team is young, they have a budding All Star guard, an All Star center is maybe making his way back to the basketball court, they can have cap space, the way they are playing they will have a draft pick in the top half of the lottery.Why can’t he see the glass half full?

But a look back at basketball career sheds some light on his depressive state, things don’t usually work out for Doug Collins…


Where to begin? how about the definitive gut punch in the history of American Basketball, and perhaps the greatest controversy in Olympics history; the Gold Medal Match of 1972. You can read a comprehensive account here, But the jist with the US trailing by one with seconds left, a 21 year old Collins makes a miraculous Disney Movie play to win the Gold Medal for the Americans, a midcourt celebration erupts, before a tortured series of official mechanations allow the Soviets to pull off a counter miracle their own.

1972 collins free throw

1972 olympic victory Hans Iba (C), coach of the US Basketball

1972 russian celebrate 1972 sadness

Here is the impossible sequence of events starting at the 54 minute mark…


Collins entered the NBA as the #1 overall Draft pick, and tallied 4 all-star games and 2 NBA Finals defeats  before a torn ACL (an injury that is repairable today) all but ended his career in his prime, at the age of 27. After a pair of failed comeback attempts his premature retirement came right before the Sixers NBA championship in 1983…

Collins mustache mullet

A H-O-R-S-E game as part of All Star weekend! An awesome idea, right? This one actually kind of sucked, but what the hell, let’s bring this back anyway…


In his first stint, Collins and his inexplicable perm haircut built the Micheal Jordan Bulls into a contender before being canned in 1989 and replaced by top assistant, and (equally 80’s hair-ed) Phil Jackson. Right as the Bulls were on the cusp of their first title…

Doug Collins Phil Jackson Doug Collins Jordan 2

Doug Collins replaced by phil jackson

So what I’m getting at is, the guy is used to things going horribly wrong.

Think about how the last year played out for Collins. An unexpected playoff run, gaining the faith of both fans and ownership, elavated to the defacto GM, landing a superstar in stunning trade…

Bynum press conference

Then the wheels come off, hard.

bynum mushroom hair

And maybe it feels familiar, and maybe it feels a little worse than usual, because maybe Doug knows he’s running out of time…

I’m starting to wonder how far we are from this…

And yet, GrowthPlates doesn’t think that we are looking at the last act of a tragic baller, we expect there is a turn or two yet in the Sixers story of Doug Collins


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