The Lakers have Kobe, the Magic have Dwight, the Thunder have Durant and the Sixers have Collins.
Collins? Yes, as in new coach Doug Collins. In a league where stars are the golden ticket, Sixers general manger Ed Stefanski refers to Collins as the “face of the franchise.”
Collins is fine with carrying that mantle, but it reflects the core problem with the Sixers. In tonight’s opener, they will face a Heat team with three superstars — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, just in case you forget. Meanwhile, the Sixers will trot out none.
“I’d much rather it be a player because this is a player’s league,” said Collins. “I love the fact that they consider me a very valuable piece of this franchise, but at the end of the day players have to be the face of the franchise, and they have to lead because they’re the ones out there playing.”
The Sixers thought they were acquiring that face a couple times. First, Stefanski signed Elton Brand to an $80 million deal. Oops.
There was a ton of buzz when the Sixers won the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft. But no one could have predicted how poor Evan Turner’s offseason has gone. Face of the franchise? He’s going to be the third player off the bench at best tonight.
“The one thing I don’t want to do is put [Turner] in a situation where if he’s not ready for it it’s going to knock him back further,” said Collins. “Evan is very hard on himself.”
The closest thing the Sixers have to a star is Andre Iguodala, a grizzled veteran who was a major part of Team USA this summer. He’s a tremendous defender and decent playmaker, but star? No way, and Iguodala knows Collins has his hands full.
“He has to really point out certain things that we were doing wrong that normally you wouldn’t have to with a veteran squad. He has to really nag, over and over about it,” he said.
Collins is going to have to keep nagging until he is no longer the face of the franchise.