Let’s for a moment just put aside the fact that as of this posting the 76ers search to fill their vacant head coaching position has gone on for two weeks, that there are still no less then four known candidates remaining for the job and that with the 2009 NBA Draft less then 30 days away, the Sixers list of potential candidates seems to be expanding rather then contracting. Even the most casual of NBA fans can identify that combination of facts as odd.
Instead as 76ers aficionados let’s focus on the unusual series events that have comprised the candidate search conducted by Ed Stefanski.
First Ed brought in his former NJ Nets colleague Eddie Jordan for an interview. Then roughly five days later, Ed flew to Los Angelesand conducted “secret” job interviews with Kurt Rambis (asst. coach LA Lakers) and Dwane Casey (asst. coach Dallas Mavericks). A mere two days after that, Stefanski confirmed that he and others in the Sixers organization interviewed Boston Celtics Associate Head Coach Tom Thibodeau. Then Ed met with current Sixers pro personnel scout Chris Ford regarding the job. Ford, who was briefly the Sixers head coach back in 2004, apparently still, remains a viable candidate.
Of course it has been well publicized that Stefanski also discussed the job opening with Villanova’s Jay Wright, which seemed odd to us since Wright has absolutely no NBA experience what so ever and because recently college coaches who have made the jump to NBA head coach have failed miserably. After his conversation with Stefanski, Wright immediately withdrew his name from consideration, so all the excitement around town was for nothing.
Lastly, Stefanski indicated that he was planning on speaking with former NBA coaches Doug Collins, Avery Johnson and Jeff van Gundy regarding the Sixers gig.
But before Stefanski got the chance to meet with that list of former head coaches, it leaked that Ed had contacted Rambis to let him know he had been eliminated from the job competition. For us here at Philadunkia, that’s were this process took a turn for “The Twilight Zone”. Who eliminates a hard working, industry respected candidate that early in a search? Ed has not even interviewed ALL the potential candidates on his wish list, yet he feels so confident that Rambis is NOT the right choice that he drops the Lakers’ assistant him from the process. That’s very strange to us. What did Rambis do or say to get eliminated so early on? More importantly why did Stefanski embarrass a guy who is well liked in NBA circles by putting his decision regarding Rambis and his status on blast so early?
Moving on from the Rambis oddities, Stefanski then contacted Avery Johnson about coming in for an interview. It is rumored that Johnson responded by stating that he was willing to talk only if was a formality and the position was his to turn down or accept. We can only assume Stefanski was having none of that, because Wednesday night Johnson released an official statement saying, “The Sixers officially contacted me regarding their head coaching position, but I have decided to stay in my role with ESPN.”
After the Johnson mishap, Stefanski brought in Casey and Jordan for second interviews, which in our opinion is another weird move since van Gundy and Collins have yet to get their first interviews. Collins has yet to officially comment on his status or interest regarding the Sixers opening and van Gundy was quoted via email to the Inqy as writing, “I don’t believe it’s right for me to talk about jobs.” If either of these former NBA head coaches is interested in the job here in Philly, they certainly are doing an excellent job of masking their desire to get the job. Typically if an out-of-the-loop ex-head coach wants back in the game, it mysteriously becomes well known that the ex-coach is interested in available job openings.
Currently Stefanski is in Chicago for the final 2009 NBA Pre Draft Camp. The Sixers have said that Stefanski will continue conducting the coaching search from Chicago and that there is still no timetable for when Stefanski will hire a coach. It’s almost a lock that Ed will find at least one or more persons to interview while he is in the Windy City. After all with the number of NBA coaches and front office types in Chi-town this week, Stefanski will feel like a kid in a candy store.
Finally, topping of the weirdness that has been the 76ers search for a new head coach, former 76er great Charles Barkley threw his two-cents behind Jordan yesterday. On a conference call promoting some charity golf event Chuck said, “I think Eddie Jordan would be a fine choice. They’re going to have a good, solid team…I think he’s a helluva coach.”
Ahh, there’s nothing better then a random, we’re sure well informed (hint of sarcasm here) opinion from Sir Charles to tell you just how strange of a trip the last two weeks have been in Philadunkia nation.