Doug Collins’ time as coach of the Philadelphia 76ers came to an end a day after the season was over. I don’t have time for figuring out if he was fired or if he really did walk away. All these cute little quotes flying around did nothing for me. But, if you know me then you know I am a sort of a team historian. That’s why I named my first Sixers blog “National Sixers” in reference to the Syracuse Nationals, what this team was referred to before coming to Philly. During the off-season, I actually will be talking about them quite a bit. But, here we are today. Doug Collins was a special coach if only because he was a star player for the Sixers too. So, I wanted to see how he stacked up against other Sixers coaches who have also played for the team.
In a post a while ago, I made my argument that Billy Cunningham was the ultimate 76er; winning a championship with the team as a star player and then leading them to the championship as a coach. He spent both playing and coaching career with the Sixers. It doesn’t get much better than that. So how will this work out? Well, I will combine both coaching stats and player stats. I guess I ruined the suspension as I already named who the winner is with Cunningham. But still, let’s take a look at our list of player-coaches:
Al Cervi: Won franchises’ first championship as coach. Only played 4 seasons for team; but spent all four with Sixers…or should I say Nationals. His rookie season? He was 32.
Paul Seymour: Spent entire NBA career with Nationals; coached by Cervi so has a championship and coaching career was good too.
Dolph Schayes: One of the first NBA stars; won championship as player and was a good coach too.
Alex Hannum: Played only two seasons with team but won championship as coach. He actually made the Hall Of Fame as a coach so he had a great career. He’s gonna be tough to rank.
Kevin Loughery: First coach on list to have losing record for team. What’s interesting about Loughery is that both his coaching career and playing career with the team happened at the same time. He coached and played for the team in 1972-73. Again, he had a bad record; going 5-26. Back during these days, it actually was common to have players coach the team too. Imagine that. He played for the team during the 71-72 season.
Billy Cunningham: As I said before, won as player and coach. Has one of the top winning % in NBA history. Nuff said.
Now, Cunningham was the last coach to…coach a good Sixers team. We’re now at the end of the 80′s and early 90′s. These are the dark ages. God help us all.
Matt Goukas: Drafted by the Sixers and play 4 seasons with team. Rookie season was Sixers’ championship season in 1966-67 so I guess he’s a winner or something. He coached for 3 seasons.
Fred Carter: Well Fred Carter played on one of the worst NBA teams ever. And then in his 2 seasons coaching with the team, he didn’t do much better. Fred coached during the early 90′s.
It wouldn’t be until 2006 that former players resurfaced on the team.
Maurice Cheeks: Won a championship as a player and while he didn’t win much as a coach, I still stand that he was fired too quickly from the apparent failed Elton Brand experiment. I heard small rumors that he was Iverson’s last straw and led to Iverson demanding a trade from the team. But boy I thought he was a good coach. And a really good player. Many are waiting for him to be inducted into the Hall Of Fame.
And lastly we have Doug Collins. He just escaped the terrible 72-73 team and a knee injury hurt his chances of possibly being a part of the championship team in 82-83. He spent his playing career as a star for the Sixers though and people love him here in Philly.
How will I rank them? Again, it’s a combination of player stats/accomplishments and coaching stats/accomplishments. After intensive review of details in the careers of these fine gentlemen, I have decided that these are how they rank:
Billy Cunningham: 2 championships, .698 coaching winning %, averaged 20.8 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 4 assists, made Hall of Fame as player.
Dolph Schayes (in my Billy Cunningham post, I actually give Schayes an honorable mention as the ultimate 76er. So I guess the top 2 spots were already filled. Sue me.): 1 championship, .538 winning % as coach, Hall of Fame player with 18.5 points, 12.1, and 3.1 assists per game. He’s another guy that coached and played at the same time.
Al Cervi: 1 championship, .594 winning % as coach, Hall of Fame player with not so Hall of Fame looking stats: 7.9 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game. His first four seasons as coach was also his only four seasons with the team. Aha!
Alex Hannum: In his two seasons with the team, he did average his best numbers in his career: 7.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. He is a Hall of Fame coach as he won in both the NBA (two championships) and ABA (one championship). His record with the Sixers/Nationals is a .594.
Paul Seymour: Paul had a nice career with the team. Has a championship. A winning record as coach .556 which is 5th best for the team. Averaged 9.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 3.9 assists. No Hall of Fame status as of now.
Now, the rankings have been…easy so far. The next two players/coaches though I spent a while trying to rank. My mind keeps flipping even as I write this. But, here we go:
Maurice Cheeks: As a player he is a leader for the team in steals and assists. He won a championship with the team. His coaching career wasn’t as strong with the team as he never led them to a winning record. Compare him to…
Doug Collins: For Collins, I went with him below Cheeks because his career was not super. It was just very good. And, for Collins, he’s a better coach than Cheeks in my opinion but while Cheeks didn’t win, at least the team didn’t perform as horrible as they did in 2012-13. The fact the Cheeks the player won as a key player for one of the greatest teams to grace the floor vs a coach, while brilliant defensively, offensively was flawed big time.
The rest of the rankings are hard if only because this is a contest to see who is the best of the worst.
Matt Goukas: While Matt has the 4th best winning % for the team, his playing career was that of a role/bench player. In his rookie season, he did win the championship with the Sixers but he wasn’t a major factor. And again, his coaching career with the team was at least memorable in his 3 seasons.
Fred Carter: For all the grief of playing on that dreaded team, it’s not like he was a bad player. But, he played on bad teams. And as a coach, he only won .296 % of the time.
And that leaves us with Kevin Loughery. This guy didn’t stay with the organization for long but his time here was bad. Maybe it was the timing. Yeah, it’s not all his fault. But, he had his hand as coach of the dreaded year as well as playing in it. He couldn’t seem to coach himself a winning game. I mean, he won a couple of ABA championships shortly after coaching the Sixers. So, he was at least a good coach. Still, for the Sixers, he probably leaves a bad taste in the mouth. During his 106 games as a player, he was just OK at best. His coaching %? Well, it’s good enough to be 2nd worst in franchise history at .161 and the worst belongs to the guy who coached the rest of that terrible season.
So that’s it. It wasn’t easy since you’re dealing with coaching and playing which are two different things. But, I think I did a good job. Let me know what you think. It’s not a perfect ranking system but it’s something.