76ers coach Collins enjoying renewed rivalry
It’s not surprising that the Celtics-76ers series will go at least six games and maybe longer. These franchises have seemingly been programmed for such wars as they meet now for the 19th time.
(The first seven were when what became the Sixers were based in Syracuse. The Celtics also faced the Philadelphia Warriors twice before they moved to the Bay Area.)
The Celtics took the upper hand with a 101-85 victory over the 76ers in Game 5 in Boston Monday night, meaning they’ll have a chance to close the series out Wednesday in Philadelphia.
Overall this has been exactly what you’d expect from a Boston-Philly matchup. And what 76ers coach Doug Collins, a veteran of the wars from the early ’70s to the start of the Larry Bird era as a Philadelphia guard, remembers.
“I remember the locker rooms if you won,” he said. “If the game before it was hot, the next night it was ice cold; if it was cold, the next night it was red hot. I remember the early morning wake-up calls at the hotel where people just happened to call you and wake you up in the middle of the night. All those wonderful things.”
Collins first picked up on the rivalry when he was just a young hoop fan dreaming of playing in the NBA.
“The Sunday afternoon game we used to get (on television) when I was a kid was usually Sixers and Celtics either from the Boston Garden or from Philadelphia,” he said. “I remember the parquet floor. I couldn’t wait to walk into the Boston Garden. I walked in to see the parquet floor and it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to be this beautifully polished parquet floor that you could eat off of and I realized that wasn’t the case.”
Collins smiled when he talked about dealing with the Celtics during his years as coach of the Bulls.
“I remember going to back to watch a game (on video),” he said. “They sent me the tape of the game to go back and watch when I was in Chicago. I went back and the tape was blank. All these wonderful things, I remember — good rivalry.”
But Collins has forged some strong relationships through the intense battles.
“I compare it to Duke-(North) Carolina,” he said. “The guys like each other. It’s the fans that don’t like each other. The Duke-Carolina guys always like each other. It’s everybody else.
“With Boston and the Sixers, John Havlicek was a dear friend of mine, but when we played we were going to play like crazy to win. Dave Cowens and I used to run basketball camps together in the summer and during the game one night, he about broke my back. That’s just the way it was.”