A brief look over at our closest competition (for now) in the Atlantic.
When Bill Parcells wanted out of New England, one of the prime reasons was because he had an issue with the way personnel was handled (ie. not by him). This led to his famous quote:
"They want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries."
Couldn't help but think of the Tuna's words when considering the plight of the Sixers. O'Brien will never be confused with a Hall of Fame coach (and Dick Harter may be the mastermind of the D, but he's no Bill Belichick), however the similarities are there.
Jim O'Brien is not a bad coach. I don't happen to like the style of play that he implements on his teams, but that's not to say it isn't effective. However, he strikes me as the kind of coach, like Parcells, that needs to have "his kind of guys" to make the system work. Eric Williams, Tony Battie, Erik Strickland, these were O'Brien guys. They accepted their roles in the offense and busted their butts on defense without question. At first it was just because they were so glad it wasn't Pitino yelling at them anymore, but once they saw that it worked, they were sold.
When he went to the Sixers, I was happy to be rid of his style of play, but I thought he'd do well in Philly. I thought of the guys on the roster as being O'Brien type guys. I got the impression that guys like Aaron McKie and Kenny Thomas would be good for him. Not to mention the fact that Iverson would finally be allowed to shoot to his heart's content and get the absolute blessing of the coach.
So what happened? Only a Sixers fan can tell you the details, but I'd imagine it has boiled down to Billy King and Jim O'Brien not seeing eye to eye. Much like O'Brien didn't see eye to eye with Danny Ainge last year. Ainge made it clear that he was buying the groceries and O'Brien quit over it. Now Billy King clearly likes Samuel Dalembert and Chris Webber much more than Jim O'Brien does.
The Sixers management just signed O'Brien to a long term deal so if they fire him, they'll have to eat that money. Don't hold your breath waiting for him to quit again. Can't see him leaving that money on the table and establishing himself around the league as a quitter. Last year he was made out to be a martyr because of what the supposedly dimwitted Danny Ainge did to him and his trusted soldiers. Now it looks like Ainge was right and the Sixers are left with a hard headed coach. Maybe Philly should have seen the signs. Maybe they could still make it work if Billy King would commit to getting O'Brien type guys. But it seems to be too late for all that.
All the better for the Celtics, but I do feel for the Sixers fans because we've been there before. All the complaints about the overtrapping defense, lack of rebounds, exaggerated reliance on the 3 point shot, etc. are all too familiar. I'd love to offer them some silver lining, some hope that the man will change his tune. But I can't. He won't. He is who he is. I'm just happy he doesn't coach the Celtics anymore.