Doug Collins Rumors
Though many teams can self-correct after players-only meetings, former NBA player and coach Doug Collins is one of the few contrarians who questions their usefulness. He says he doesn’t like how coaches are often the last to know, which happened in September when Maryland football coach Randy Edsall learned from reporters on a conference call that his team had held a players-only meeting that morning. Coincidentally or not, Edsall was fired days later. “Too often the coaches end up being blindsided and hung out in public,” Collins says. “What I always felt was when you’re a coach and you have your players and your team, you want all the things done within the group. The hardest thing to do is build that trust where everyone can get in the room together, everyone can say anything to each other, everyone puts agendas aside and says, ‘Let’s talk about what we can do. Together.'”
“The world could be crashing down around him, and there was never a day when I didn’t see him with a smile on his face,” Collins said in a phone interview Thursday. “He used to call me Paul Douglas, because that’s my full name — Paul Douglas Collins. And I’d call him Double Stick of Dynamite or D Double D. He was so talented. The game came so easy to him. Maybe too easy. I can’t even imagine how big he’d be if he came along today in this age of social media and top 10 highlights.”
Sam: I do have to defend the Bulls on this one as it has become sort of a smear campaign, that big lie thing that if you say a lie often enough people will believe it. The parting with Vinnie went badly and John Paxson did regret the events and apologized. As a result, he hasn’t had much interaction with Thibodeau. But the Bulls often have been more generous to their coaches than I would have been. Doug Collins and Jackson still remain close with Bulls management, Paxson and Collins still emailing almost weekly. Collins received championship jewelry from the team to thank him for his contributions even though he was fired two years before the first title. And despite Jerry Krause’s open courtship of Tim Floyd, Reinsdorf offered Jackson a multiyear deal at the league’s highest salary to begin a post-Jordan rebuilding. Jackson declined as he didn’t want to be involved in rebuilding. Tim Floyd quit and Reinsdorf paid him the full two years left on his contract. Scott Skiles told management he couldn’t coach the players anymore. They let him go, but they cancelled the offset in his contract so he could go to the Bucks and double dip with two salaries instead of the Bulls getting his Bucks salary. And though there was bitterness at Thibodeau’s discharge, no one in 20 years had hired Thibodeau to be head coach until the Bulls did. And then they gave him a generous contract extension and he’ll make $9 million the next two years. It doesn’t exactly suggest a pattern of coaching abuse.
As of Wednesday, all remained quiet as far as the job status of Thibodeau. That doesn’t mean details of the frayed relationship between coach and front office haven’t stopped permeating throughout the league. While there had been reports of Bulls VP of basketball operations John Paxson trying to force-feed an offensive-minded presence on Thibodeau and his staff last summer, that so-called would-be assistant coach went nameless. According to a league source, however, it was former Bulls coach Doug Collins. Considering how close Collins and members of the Bulls front office have remained over the years, it would have been a recipe for disaster. The ultimate act of undermining. Luckily, Thibodeau resisted the idea, as his team went on and finished fourth in the Eastern Conference in offensive efficiency anyway.
Jack Haley had no business being in the NBA with no real skill that relates not only to basketball, but playing with the greatest players in the world. He had a set shot and couldn’t really jump, didn’t see the floor that well, handle the ball or even take his sweats off effectively. Doug Collins, who gave Haley his first NBA job with the Bulls in 1988, has a favorite story. “He’d always sit close to me,” Collins recalled Tuesday. Early in one game we didn’t have any energy. I said, ‘Jack, you want to play, get in there.’ He jumped up and we had those snap away pants back then. He pulled them off so fast to get in the game one of the snaps broke off. It hits me in my eye and now I couldn’t see like half the game. He’s saying, ‘Coach, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’ I was, ‘Jack, just get in. Go play.’ He was ready, always ready. He wanted to play so badly.”