Davis Laments Grim Season

Posted: April 22, 1997

Former Sixer Sharone Wright called Philadelphia ``Godzilla.''

Former Eagles coach Rich Kotite couldn't wait to get to the New York Jets because he said it would be easier on him.

And now, one day after Johnny Davis was fired as coach of the Sixers, he, too, said he felt the wrath of the City of Brotherly Love.

``To be a head coach in this league, you'd better be resilient,'' Davis said when asked what he learned in his only season as the Sixers' coach. ``And if you come to Philadelphia, you'd better square it.''

Speaking yesterday in the same room at the CoreStates Center in which he spoke after so many disappointing losses, Davis said he was disappointed he would not get the chance to continue as the Sixers' coach.

``We were trying to build a roster that was going to be competitive,'' said Davis, who finished 22-60 in his first head-coaching stint. ``I thought all we needed was time to execute what we wanted to do.

``Unfortunately, [fired Sixers general manager Brad Greenberg] and I won't be able to do that. I think all of us would have been better next year. You can point to a lot of things that went wrong, but we weren't that far off.''

Davis didn't exactly pass the buck as to why the Sixers were such a disappointment, but he still only accepted about 45 cents of it.

``I understand the coach is always the magnet,'' he said. ``I accept that and take my share of responsibility . . . But I had to work with what I was provided.''

Addressing many of the issues Sixers president Pat Croce gave Sunday for why he dismissed his general manager and coach, Davis had an answer for each.

He said the reported rift between Greenberg and him ``didn't exist. At the beginning of the season, we agreed that we could disagree because we knew there would be some differences.''

Davis said the Sixers' chemistry problems were because his frontcourt players - Derrick Coleman, Clarence Weatherspoon, Scott Williams and Michael Cage - were halfcourt players, while his young guards - rookie Allen Iverson and second-year man Jerry Stackhouse - were ``gazelles'' who wanted to ``run up and down the floor.''

He added the best thing the Sixers could do would be to get Coleman ``in phenomenal shape so he can join Allen and Jerry in running up and down the floor.''

Davis said despite Croce's concerns over ``the level of discipline'' with the basketball operations, he never lost the respect of his players.

``None of our players refused to go in a game,'' Davis said. ``No one threw a towel in my face. Can you imagine what would have been said if that would have happened here?

``But so much was made out of a lot of small things that I have to ask myself, `Why?' ''

Though home attendance was up 23 percent despite the third-worst record in franchise history, Davis said: ``I thought we were a better road team than home team. I would have liked to have seen the fans be more supportive. I know you have to give the fans something to be supportive about, which really was not the case this year. But if you don't have a homecourt advantage, you're not going to be successful.''

Davis also said he thought certain members of the media covering the team ``went beyond the scope of good journalism and good reporting. I think sometimes if got downright cruel and inhumane. But you have your own conscience to deal with on that.''

But despite what certainly has to be the most negative experience of his career, Davis said if had it to do over again, he would ``absolutely'' come to Philadelphia.

``I think this is a fine team and a fine organization,'' Davis said. ``It's a great city with great, passionate fans. I think better days are ahead. Certainly, I would have liked to have been a part of that.''

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