The four writers at this site are fortunate enough to have been credentialed by the team or the league on more than a few occasions. While Tanner and Derek have had opportunities to talk to, or sit in press conferences with, coach Doug Collins, I have not yet had the pleasure. So all of the questions that I want to ask him are thus far going unanswered. Now that I am back on the East Coast, the hope is that I could have one of these conversations with Doug in the near future. Ideally, it would be a sit-down interview rather than a press conference because I would need incessant eye contact throughout the interview, and in a bigger setting, we couldn't get the necessary rapport that I so crave.
What follows is how I imagine the conversation will play out, word for word.
Mike Levin: Doug, thanks for joining me today, I really appreciate it.
Doug Collins: It's my pleasure.
More hard-hitting fake questions after the jump!
ML: Almost halfway through the season, how do you feel things have gone so far?
DC: Well, Mike, I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't more than a little disappointed. And everyone will tell you that. I think there's a lot of things I'm proud of and areas in which we've improved since day 1, but I can't be happy with an 11-18 record. That being said, we've lost a lot of close games because of how young we are. A few bounces go our way and we're 15-14, easy. I mean we're only one game back of the eighth seed now. There's plenty of season left.
ML: How has your opinion of this team changed since you started coaching these players?
DC: It hasn't. Well, I shouldn't say that. It hasn't much. There's always interesting bits of information you pick up on when you're in the thick of a team that you don't see from the broadcasting booth, but for the most part these guys are what I expected them to be. The result hasn't been there, unfortunately, but we're getting better every game and learning how to play team basketball as the season goes on.
ML: Any bits you'd like to share with us?
DC: Jodie takes a bath at halftime.
ML: Hm. The team lacks financial flexibility because of the contracts of Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala, even Andres Nocioni. Are you trying to move these players?
DC: I've talked extensively with Ed Stefanski and Rod Thorn about this, and no, we're not actively trying to move any of these guys. Elton's had a tremendous year, an all-star caliber year, and he's a huge part of this team. Andre has cut down on his three-point attempts, lowered his turnovers and been very effective as the leader of the team. We know Andre's not a scorer, but he can score the basketball because of how talented he is on the court. And Noce is a great character guy, knows how to play the game, and brings a level of toughness on both ends of the court that every team needs. He's a great asset.
ML: Do you feel that you have a chance to win a championship this season?
DC: If we get into the playoffs, anything can happen from there.
ML: If you were a betting man --
DC: Oh now you're gonna get me in trouble. (Laughs)
ML: (Laughs) Do you think this team is a championship contender this season?
DC: Realistically, no, but that doesn't mean we can't make some noise. We've taken the Celtics down to the wire twice, the Hawks, the Heat -- we're a better basketball team than our record suggests. Obviously the goal is to win a championship, not just hang with the big boys.
ML: When do you think this team can win a championship?
DC: Hopefully soon.
DC: We're building towards 2013.
ML: Louis Williams and Elton Brand run out that year. Same with Iguodala if he doesn't pick up his option. And there's a team option for Nocioni that year.
DC: That's right.
ML: So you're building for that year, but once it comes and goes, you're four players short from the run you intend to make. What happens then?
DC: By that point, we'll be counting on Evan Turner, Marreese Speights and Jodie Meeks more. Maybe even Craig Brackins, we're still not sure what we have with him. And Jrue Holiday will, if he's not already, be in elite point guard. Thaddeus Young continues to get better. Even if some of those contracts run out, which isn't a guarantee for that year, we'll have our young players ready to play vital roles.
ML: You're confident that the pieces you have in place will be ready to win a championship by 2013?
DC: We still need help up front. I'm thrilled with Spencer Hawes' development since the start of the season, though that had more to do with him being healthy than anything else. We could use a shot-blocking presence like Tony Battie to take some pressure off the people on the perimeter and another shooter wouldn't hurt, though we're really happy with Jodie.
ML: If you've conceded that the goal is to go for a championship in 2013, what's the reasoning behind giving playing time like Battie and Darius Songaila and Jason Kapono over Turner and Speights?
DC: I play the guys that I feel give us the best chance to win the game.
DC: I'm not sure I know what you're asking.
ML: Why do you play the guys that give you the best chance to win that game?
DC: It's my job. As a coach.
ML: Wouldn't you say it's more important to win a championship?
DC: Winning games is how you win a championship. Unless there's something about basketball you know that I don't.
ML: A number of people on the site, myself included, think the priority should be to play the young guys, namely Evan Turner, rather than the veterans who won't contribute to a Sixers championship team.
DC: To quote a good friend of mine, Herm Edwards, "you play to win the game." You don't tank, you don't worry about whose feelings are getting hurt or how much money somebody's making. You play to win the game. And I know what you're saying -- I've heard it before -- that we should trade Andre and Elton, get a better draft pick and only have people in the starting lineup who can't legally drink.
ML: Oklahoma City.
DC: Exactly. And we'll get there. But I'm not going to sacrifice wins just so Turner can run around.
ML: You don't feel like you're sacrificing player development for meaningless wins?
DC: (By this point he's ready to throttle me) I care about winning. What do you care about?
DC: What do you care about with the Sixers?
ML: I care about winning a championship.
DC: Isn't that the same thing?
ML: Not when Evan Turner's sitting on the bench.
DC: We're going to keep trying to win games. Losing breeds losing. I don't buy into that philosophy. Basketball is fun. Winning is fun. Nothing good comes of losing games.
ML: We've had a lot of fun during this interview, but be honest with me on this one. Do you read Liberty Ballers dot com?
DC: Every day. Ya'll can't handle the Jruth.
Hope you guys enjoyed this fake interview with Doug Collins. If I do get to talk to the actual him, I envision things being less hostile and more cuddly. At least Fake Collins (Follins!) reads the blog.