HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — It’s been a pretty miserable season for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Because they’re in the Eastern Conference, the Sixers were just four games out of a playoff spot when they took the floor against the Orlando Magic. But not once in the last 3 1/2 months have they ever resembled anything close to a playoff team. And not once has Andrew Bynum been close to actually playing in a game.
Well, things clearly hit rock bottom for Philly on Tuesday night when they lost by 14 points at home to the Orlando Magic, a team that was 3-28 (1-14 on the road) since Dec. 21, had traded one of its best players five days ago, and was looking like it would hold the No. 30 spot in our Power Rankings for the rest of the season.
The embarrassing loss, the Sixers’ sixth straight, was apparently the breaking point for Sixers coach Doug Collins, who had some interesting things to say in his post-game press conference. Collins basically avoided all blame for his team’s struggles and mostly threw his players under the bus.
And he came out firing right away. First, he called the game “mind-numbing.” Then, he used a Pat Summit story to say that a coach can’t control energy and effort, and gave the reporters in the room a look that said, “See what I’m saying here?”
Collins also brought up his own effort as a Sixers player for comparison.
“I gave my body to this franchise,” he said. “I was never booed as a player. Never. I ran through my sneakers.”
There were references to the fact that Bynum hasn’t played a single minute this season…
“The team that we tried to put together we’ve never seen. And so I think, when you take a huge piece away from it, your warts show.”
And there were more obvious criticisms of his players…
“I did not think our guys prepared themselves during the [All-Star] break to come back to play.”
More of the I’m-doing-everything-I-can talk….
“If everybody looked inside themselves as much as I did, this world would be a CAT scan. OK? Believe me, there’s not two days go by that I don’t go to Rod [Thorn], I don’t go to Tony [DiLeo], ‘What can I do? Can I do anything different? How can I be a better coach? How can I be a better leader? How can I help these guys?’
“Sometimes, you’ve got to help yourself, you know? Sometimes you’ve got to help yourself. Youth is a very blaming thing.”
“My job is to not put that kind of product on the floor. I’m incredibly hard on myself. I love it when the fans start yelling at me. I’m not playing. You didn’t yell at me when I played. Why are you yelling at me when I’m coaching?”
Want another way to say that the coach can’t control energy and effort? Here you go…
“They say it’s a players’ league. Well, then take ownership. Take ownership. That’s all I’m asking. Take ownership of what you’re putting out there. To me, I’m a day’s work for a day’s pay kind of guy. That’s all I’ve been ever taught.”
I did my job, but they’re not doing theirs…
“There’s nothing wrong with our preparation. I looked out there to start the game, three guys weren’t even sweating when we started the game! They were going to ease themselves into the game. You’ve got to get sweaty. You’ve got to be ready to go.”
Spencer, I coached Nik Vucevic. I knew Nik Vucevic. Nik Vucevic was a player of mine. Spencer, you’re no Nik Vucevic…
“We made a huge deal. And we have nobody playing as part of that deal. How many teams can give up Andre Iguodala, Moe Harkless and Nik Vucevic, and have nothing in return playing? That’s tough to overcome, right? That’s just the facts. I’m not looking for any out. But that’s the facts. Nik Vucevic had 19 rebounds tonight. Spencer had one. I think Lavoy [Allen] had two.”
Finally, about 10 minutes into the press conference, Collins falls on his sword … sort of …
“I don’t want you to feel like I’m up here blaming. I don’t want you to think I’m making excuses. That’s not what this is about. I’m not a blamer. I’m not an excuse kind of guy. No one takes this harder than I do. Nobody. I’m a guy, who, when I have coached, I’ve always been able to find some answers. And I have not been able to find answers. And from my standpoint, that is very disappointing, because I’m paid to do that.”
The Sixers next play on Thursday, when they visit the Bulls (who also suffered a pretty embarrassing loss on Tuesday) at 8 p.m. on TNT. Should be interesting.