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"Really, more than anything, that's what's belonged in our house all these years," Chris says. "Because that's something he did earn. He was cheated. That may be the proudest thing I've ever done."
The gold is in Doug's home office, along with the six watches that Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf gave him after each Bulls championship. As it turns out, Collins is not the only one who remembers. The Bulls fired him, but in 2008 they nearly rehired him. (He and Reinsdorf decided not to risk their friendship by working together again.) The Pistons fired him, but in 2009 they nearly hired him again. Jordan supposedly tired of Collins's overbearing ways, but in 2001 he hired Collins to coach him in Washington. Now the 76ers, Collins's old team, gave him a four-year contract to revitalize the franchise.
"I honestly believe there is something far greater than basketball that brought me back here," he says. "I don't know what it is yet."
Maybe it's the chance to live near his daughter and her husband and two sons. Maybe he is supposed to reconnect with the city where he played.
Maybe he is there to watch his young 76ers lead the Heat for most of a Friday night in late March, only to lose to a more talented team.
Or maybe the answer came when Philadelphia started 3--13. It was a brutal stretch, as Collins would be the first to tell you. There was a loss to the Thunder: "We're within three. We give up a lob to [Russell] Westbrook with one second on the shot clock, with 2½ minutes to go in the game." To the Wizards: "We give up a three, and they go ahead and beat us in overtime." To Washington again: "We're up three, miss two free throws, we foul them shooting a half-court three, they make all three, we lose in overtime." To the Raptors: "It's a tie game, [Andrea] Bargnani scores to put 'em up two. We go dead in the water and can't score."
Down in Durham, N.C., Chris was thinking, "Man, I don't know how much of this he'll be able to take." But in Philadelphia, Doug decided the 76ers were playing winning basketball. They just weren't winning. He slept well.
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