But there's something about the way in which Collins campaigns for coaching jobs while working playoff games on TNT that bugs me. We saw it with the Chicago vacancy last spring, and we're seeing it now with the Philadelphia opening. The problem for me is that Collins seems to enjoy creating the whispers, the rumors, the controversy. Last night's Lakers-Rockets game was a fantastic example.
Before the game, Collins told the Associated Press he had talked to the 76ers "two or three times" about the job, making it clear there was some mutual interest. During the game, as word spread when the AP moved it story, Collins recanted while on the air.
"I have not spoken to them. And I want them to understand that," Collins said on TV. "I feel very badly if there was a miscommunication there at all." He added: "I apologize to Eddie Stefanski if they felt like I was putting something out there that was not true."Rick Pitino déja vu? You betcha. Collins or his agent (who has been quite public this month) know what they're doing. Not to say that the flub and on-air apology were planned. But by telling reporters there has been contact, the story continues. The name remains at the top of all reporters' rumored lists. Public sentiment grows, or is at least sustained.
No doubt Collins or his agent have talked to someone with the 76ers organization, perhaps even Stefanski himself. But teams want to protect against the notion that they talk to potential coaches while they still have one under contract. Tony DiLeo already sounds defensive about his "resignation" as coach; the admission that Collins has been talking to the Sixers even before that sullies our perception of the break-up, and does nothing for Philadelphia's image.
Or, in short, Collins hurts the team's stability in order to keep his name at the top of the list. That's fine. That's the way business works, I suppose. But it gets shady when you consider that Collins is using his current job -- TNT broadcaster -- to pull off the whole ruse. Whatever he says during a nationally broadcast playoff game immediately goes out to millions of basketball fans. And Tuesday night, Collins basically told the world he wants the Sixers job, and even in denying he had talked to them he admitted he had talked to them. Collins may not be a Nobel winner, but he knows when he's talked to someone. If he told the AP that at 5 PM, he meant it.
But, seriously. Déja vu from last year and Chicago. What job will Collins campaign for next season?