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MFFL
06-01-2003, 10:44 AM
Friday, May 30
Updated: June 1, 9:46 AM ET
Collins had sense he'd get fired by Wiz
Associated Press


WASHINGTON -- First Michael Jordan, now Doug Collins. And if Washington Wizards fans don't like it, they can get their money back.

Collins was fired as the Wizards' coach Friday, three weeks after Jordan was shown the door by owner Abe Pollin. The widely expected move happened sooner than expected -- Pollin originally had pledged to let Jordan's yet-to-be-hired replacement decide Collins' fate.

"I think everybody had a sense all along that I was going to be fired,'' Collins said. "It was just a matter of when that was going to happen.''

In a statement, Pollin said he made the move when he did to give Collins time to pursue other coaching jobs, but Collins had a different reason: the possibility that someone such as former Philadelphia coach Larry Brown could be interested in both coaching and running the front office.

"If they can get Larry Brown, they've hit a home run,'' Collins said.

But the Wizards won't get Brown, who will be announced as the Pistons' new coach on Monday. Detroit fired Rick Carlisle late Friday.

Pollin laid down a new challenge for himself in a separate letter that will be sent to season ticket-holders. After citing the unpopularity of his decision to dismiss Jordan, Pollin promised refunds to fans unhappy with his moves.

"My pledge to you: If you are not satisfied with the direction of our basketball franchise after this summer, I will refund your season-ticket deposit in full,'' Pollin wrote. A copy of the letter, dated June 2, was obtained by The Associated Press on Friday.

The Wizards are expecting a substantial drop in attendance this season after selling out 82 consecutive games during Jordan's second comeback as a player.

Jordan was the Wizards' president of basketball operations when he hired Collins in April 2001. Jordan then decided to return as a player, putting Collins in the unusual position of coaching the person who hired him. The Wizards went 37-45 both seasons and failed to make the playoffs.

Collins had two years remaining on his four-year contract, but his days were numbered once Pollin decided not to let Jordan, who had retired as a player again, return to the front office.

Collins was an obvious member of the Jordan camp in a franchise that had splintered into two groups -- one supporting the owner, the other supporting Jordan.

"With Michael hiring me, it was natural that I would be the next one to be dismissed,'' Collins said.

Last week, Pollin said the new president of basketball operations, whom he plans to hire before the June 26 draft, would handle Collins' situation and select the team's coach.

But the fact that Collins was still technically an employee made it awkward for Pollin to pursue some candidates. The Washington Post, citing sources, reported Friday that Brown canceled an interview for a potential front office-coaching position out of respect for Collins.

The Wizards said Pollin would have no further comment. In his letter to season ticket-holders, Pollin said he has "interviewed and will continue to interview the brightest available basketball minds in the business.''

Meanwhile, outgoing general manager Wes Unseld is in charge of draft preparations. Unseld, who held the title in name only while Jordan ran the team for 3 seasons, is taking a leave of absence after the draft for health reasons.

Collins coached Jordan and the Chicago Bulls from 1986-89 and the Detroit Pistons from 1995-98 and was working as a TV analyst when Jordan lured him back to the sidelines. His two seasons with the Wizards were his only two full seasons in which he did not lead his team to the playoffs, and this season ended with him criticizing his players for showing disrespect.

"It's my job as a coach to win,'' Collins said, "and that didn't happen.''

Collins said he was not looking to rush into another coaching job.

"Whatever I do next in my life, I want it to be well thought out,'' Collins said.

The Wizards said no decision had been made concerning assistant coach Brian James. The contracts of assistants Larry Drew and Patrick Ewing are expiring, and assistant John Bach retired at the end of the season.

Drbio
06-01-2003, 11:31 AM
No great surprise really since he was Jordans guy.

jayC
06-01-2003, 05:26 PM
Collins should go back to the booth. He was great in the booth not as a head coach.