When the going for the Philadelphia 76ers gets tough, head coach Doug Collins gets chatty.
Following a lackluster effort against the Orlando Magic that culminated in Philly's sixth straight loss, Collins ripped into his team's work ethic. Like, really reached in and tore it apart.
Almost needless to say, the footage of it is must-watch.
"Well I sure didn't see this effort coming," he said to open up the postgame press conference (via CSNPhilly.com).
Neither did the rest of us.
Over the course of the Sixers' current losing streak, not once did you get the sense they had quit. They performed valiantly against the New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks, and traces of devotion were even present in blowouts suffered at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat.
However, when facing a Magic team with the second-worst record in the NBA, that discipline, that sense of purpose just wasn't there. And Collins took exception, benching four of his starters early in the fourth quarter:
Hey, you know what? They weren't getting it done. What were we down, 17? We went from seven to 17. And I go back to [coach Hank Iba], that voice I always here [sic], "Hey son, if you don't want to play, your substitute does. Give somebody else a chance." We did and we cut it to five.
The Sixers shot just 39.5 percent from the field and were outscored 40-26 in the paint by Orlando. As if that wasn't enough of a reminder that Andrew Bynum is still nowhere to be found, Philadelphia saw Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless—two of the three key players given up in exchange for Bynum—combine for 22 points.
Frustrated wouldn't even begin to describe Collins when broaching that topic here.
He never once raised his voice or was anything other than welcoming to reporters, but you could see the look of exasperation (disgust?) on his face when he touched upon the trade:
We made a huge deal and we have nobody playing a part of that deal. How many teams can give up Andre Iguodala, Moe Harkless and Nikola Vucevic and have nothing in return playing? That’s tough to overcome.
Life hasn't been easy sans Bynum. Not a Bynum-related issue goes by that doesn't make fans and critics wonder how the season would have gone if the Sixers hadn't mortgaged their immediate future on a supposed star who has yet to take the court.
Still, Collins' justifiable rant wasn't about winning, per se, it was about wanting to win, about diligently playing every possession.
"There's nothing wrong with our preparation," he said at one point.
Chide Collins for a lack of execution and even his unwillingness to look at advanced stats, but no one can get on him for a lack of will. His job is to inspire, yes, but if the Sixers aren't motivated enough to play for a coach who's clearly invested as much as Collins, then I'm not sure what would drive them.
Of course, Collins himself is not free from blame. He's the coach of this team, and is therefore subject to criticism as well. Harping on Bynum's injury, using it as almost an excuse, isn't going to get him anywhere.
But neither will his team's most recent effort; the kind that makes you wonder if there would be a light at the end of a tunnel even if Bynum comes back.
This kind of effort doesn't leave Collins speechless, just incapable of deciphering who or what is at fault.
"I love it when the fans start yelling at me —I'm not playing," Collins said. "You didn't yell at me when I played. Why are you yelling at me when I'm coaching?"
Probably because in the midst of a season that's getting away from the Sixers, the fans, like Collins, are running out of people to blame.
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