Julius Erving, an icon of the Philadelphia 76ers franchise, offered coach Doug Collins a glowing endorsement during an appearance at the Wells Fargo Center as part of a celebration of the 1983 NBA championship team. Erving, who serves as a “strategic adviser” to the organization, met with the media prior to Sunday’s home finale and gave the coach a de facto vote of confidence.
“The organization can ill afford to have [Collins] walk away, because they’re not going to get a better coach or a better teacher,” Erving said, according to the Delaware County Daily Times. “If they’re going to invest money, you’ve got to invest it in him.”
Then Sunday night, Collins reportedly informed Sixers ownership that he will not return as coach next season. Oops.
In case anybody thinks Erving was simply being optimistic to stay in agreement with the company line, his comments on absentee center Andrew Bynum were far less enthusiastic. Erving was clearly annoyed with the young center in essentially saying the Sixers would be better off moving forward without him.
“I know what the net result is,” Erving said. “The net result is Robert Parish‘s old number: double-zero. … We have not benefited one degree. I guess he has.”
The Sixers have an interesting decision to make this summer regarding Bynum. They traded away Andre Iguodala, Nik Vucevic and Maurice Harkless last year to acquire him, but he failed to play a single game for Philadelphia this season and will seek a maximum contract this offseason as he comes back from double-knee surgery. As for Collins, reports indicate he may remain with the team in a non-coaching capacity, so the teaching element Erving raved about could still be around the Sixers’ practice facility at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine next year.