Doug Collins, the new coach of the Washington Wizards, routinely gets fired for winning. In
No. There’s a reason Collins’ first two stops were a fast burn: He simply exhausts his players. Like a college coach, Collins fusses too much, weeps too much, over-praises good performances, over-condemns bad ones, chases off players he doesn’t like, and even alienates the ones he does—all in all, he’s an awful fit for the NBA. Still, the Bulls and Pistons would have forgiven his histrionics if Collins had done two things: developed his young players and then, just as important, kept them cheerful and focused. He sometimes did the former, but never the latter. And that’s why he’ll fail in
Collins recently told the Washington Post, “The number one thing I pride myself in is creating an environment where young guys get better. They did in
What should worry the Wizards is that Collins has yet to develop a big man from scratch. Between 1986 and 1988, the Bulls spent three high draft choices on posts to take the heat off
More troubling is Collins’ propensity to unravel in front of his team. As one Piston explained, “He was smart, but when he took things personally, he lost it.” Problem is, Collins takes everything personally. Often, after regular season wins and losses, he broke down in front of his players. (According to Sam Smith’s The Jordan Rules, MJ once told a group of players, “You may think you’ve got problems with your coaches, but, well, mine cries every day.”) After chasing Allan Houston out of
It’s difficult for a coach, even a mild-mannered one, to keep NBA millionaires emotionally level for 82 games (see Phil Jackson and the Lakers or, better yet, Mike Dunleavy and the Trail Blazers). It’s next to impossible when the coach is himself an emotional basket case. That’s why the Bulls and the Pistons fired Collins—not because he didn’t win, but because his heart-on-my-sleeve act simply wore out the team.
With each stint tarred by his histrionics, how does Collins keep landing NBA jobs? Well, Collins uses his TV career—where his straightforwardly emotional style is an asset—to launch and re-launch his coaching one. Bulls General Manager Jerry Krause hired him away from a local station in 1986. After the
Jordan, on the other hand, should know better—he slogged through Collins’ antics in
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