Jerry Colangelo, one of the most respected figures in sports for the last half century, has been named Chairman of Basketball Operations for the Philadelphia 76ers. Colangelo, 76, will try to fix a franchise that is 36-148 over the last two-plus seasons, including 1-21 this season.
How bad has it gotten? The 76ers lost to San Antonio, 119-68, on Monday. The worst part?The Spurs rested their starters.
“I had a long time to ponder what I saw,” Colangelo said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “It’s human nature. You come up with opinions and some things to think about deeply. I was up at 5 this morning, and I was communicating with Coach (Brett) Brown 45 minutes later. So the beat goes on. It’s not going to be something that’s going to change in 24 hours. Change takes time. You know what they’ve been doing in Philadelphia as it relates to a game plan. The game plan is a strategic plan to try to build though the draft. You can give it any term you wish. This is not the first time that’s happened in sports. It’s happened many, many times, just under the guise of a lot of different terms.”
True, but the Sixers’ rebuild seems remarkably protracted. In fact, Philly hasn’t had a winning season since the lockout-shortened 2011-2012 campaign, when it went 35-31. Philly’s last true winning season came in 2004-05, when it went 43-39.
“I looked at it as a challenge,” Colangelo said. “You have a plan and sometimes you have to look at that plan after three years, four years, and say, ‘You know what? This has to be tweaked.’ I’ve done that over the years in Arizona with the Diamondbacks. I had a five-year plan for baseball to do it solely through he draft, and after our first year, we lost 25 percent of our season-ticket base. I said ‘No, we’re going to have to win now.’ We had a four-year plan with an eight-year payout and what happened? We won three divisional titles and a World Series – the fastest ever in baseball history. So I’ve been there, I’ve done that. I get the plusses and minuses, but it takes a collaborative agreement. It starts with ownership. I come in with a lot of recommendations and we will collaboratively make those decisions.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver reportedly pressured the 76ers to reach out to Colangelo and hire him.
“I’m sure there was conversation that Adam had with owners, and I assume with Josh Harris,” Colangelo said. “And so when Josh called me, he made it very clear he was calling because he wanted help and he felt that I had the experience and expertise to do just that.”
Colangelo said that Brown is under “great duress,” while the fan base has grown tired of waiting for a winner.
“Teams who lose stay down for a long time,” Colangelo said. “The one way you have a chance to come back realistically is the draft. Look at Oklahoma City. Three years in a row the stars were aligned for them. They got Durant, Westbrook and Harden.”
The 76ers, however, haven’t drafted anyone of that caliber.
“There’s a balance here in terms of credibility, in terms of the fans, the media,” Colangelo said. “When there’s an awful lot of unrest, that makes it even more difficult – and I sensed that while I was at the ball game two nights ago against San Antonio.”
Of course, losing by 41 points to reserves will do that to you.
“Coach Brown was beside himself,” Colangelo said. “He was embarrassed. It wasn’t like the team that and been playing so hard for him. They just kind of rolled it out there. When there’s apathy, that’s bad.”