Why Tony DiLeo Doesn't Deserve What He Got

Steve PrudenteCorrespondent IMay 13, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - APRIL 26:  Head coach Tony DiLeo of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts to a call against the Orlando Magic during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at the Wachovia Center on April 26, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Admittedly, I'm not a very big fan of the NBA. I'm a casual fan.

I can't honestly say I've actually followed the Sixers for years. But for some reason, this year got me excited.

Before the year even began, the Sixers brought star power forward Elton Brand on board in hopes of bringing in a little more of a half-court threat to their fast-paced attack.

Obviously, in hind sight, things didn't work out that way, but there were plenty of other reasons to be excited about Sixers basketball this season. They made the playoffs the previous season and actually had the Detroit Pistons on their heels before bowing out in six games.

However, the season didn't start out very exciting, as the team stumbled to a 9-14 record out of the gate, ultimately leading to the removal of head coach Moe Cheeks on December 13th.

Enter Tony DiLeo. When announced as the interim coach, many were surprised that management had elected to put their Assistant GM into a coaching role. Management typically shouldn't get within a light year of a coaching job.

DiLeo's first 10 games as head coach were rather unimpressive, as he compiled a 4-6 record. However, keep in mind that he began his tenure 3-0, including two wins against a hapless Washington Wizards squad that more than likely would have beaten the Sixers just days before.

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All DiLeo did after that was lead the team on a seven-game winning streak, bringing them back to the .500 mark and back into playoff discussions. The Sixers clinched a playoff berth on April 4th with a 95-90 win over Detroit, and still had hopes of clinching the coveted fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.

The jubilation and high hopes would be short-lived however, as the Sixers then dropped their next six games, four of them coming against teams below them in the standings.

Ultimately, the Sixers finished sixth in the Eastern Conference, and met up with the Orlando Magic in the first round of the playoffs. After building a 2-1 series lead, the Sixers dropped the next three games, two on home court, and were eliminated in the first round for the second year in a row.

Many blame DiLeo for this collapse, and it's really unfortunate that they do. I, for one, think he did a commendable job of taking the reigns and making this team believe that they could go places. The coach can only carry a team so far...part of the onus has to be on the players.

Throughout the season, Samuel Dalembert was the most vocal opposition of DiLeo's coaching, claiming that he wasn't being utilized properly. You can't blame Tony for Dalembert's inconsistencies, though.

There were games when Sammy would show up and get 10 rebounds and 15 points, a solid contribution from a bench player. Then there were games where TV announcer Marc Zumoff would barely mention his name, even though his minutes were adding up.

When you consider the fact that DiLeo still finished his tenure with a 34-31 record, he looks like the right man for the job. I'm not saying he is, but for him to be outed by players like Theo Ratliff and Andre Iguodala as if he didn't do a good job is just not right.

Yes, DiLeo's rightful place in this organization is in the front office, but the way in which he is going back there is disgraceful. This guy took a team from near the depths of the league basement and made them into contenders. Not strong contenders, but contenders nonetheless.

He deserves a little credit. A little respect. Certainly not what he's gotten.


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