Collins and Bowa are an interesting comparison. Both grew up in this town as professional athletes in the 1970s. Both are composed of equal parts brains, passion and personality. They are "good quotes," as newspaper people say, and they could be counted upon to be congenitally incapable of hiding their emotions at difficult times.
When Collins went on his famous late-season meltdown, talking about how he had players who didn't even bother to work up a sweat during warmups, making sure everyone knew that he had been the kind of player who "ran through my sneakers," you just know that Bowa was somewhere applauding every word.
They are different people, but they are kind of the same in that way. They fell in and out of love with players, often - and the franchise could sometimes suffer from a touch of vertigo as the whole thing spun. Their strength was not developing young guys, - or, especially, living with their professional immaturity. They were not good losers, even when the losing was preordained.
Put it this way: Collins could have been the Sixers' perfect coach if Andrew Bynum had not done the wounded-knee thing. For a team pushing toward excellence, with a fairly set rotation, he might be one of the better coaches around.
But development? Doug doesn't do development, not at his age - and that is where the Sixers are now in what is presumed to be the post-Bynum era, and that is where they will be. It makes perfect sense that he wants out. He knows what is ahead.
This year was not his fault - was not, underlined. But it would be wrong for him to try to take this team into the future.
There is talk that nobody will want this job, given the tatters. Maybe that is a fact. But the truth is that the Sixers do not need a "name" coach to create excitement about this franchise because there is nothing that will create excitement about this franchise other than winning. They need players, and they need to develop them, and they need to win, and they need a coach with the skill and the patience to facilitate that - not to play the trumpet at the head of a parade.
They need the smartest guy in the room. They do not need a guy who will necessarily light up the room.
They need someone who is comfortable teaching young players, and who will relate to them. They do not need a public personality.
This team has drafted well over the years, given its draft position (Evan Turner notwithstanding). The Bynum maneuver was well-executed and worth the gamble, even as badly as it turned out. I would have loved to have been there when whoever pounded the table and demanded, "Get me Kwame Brown" - you know, just for a laugh - but the front office seems to understand that you cannot get to the NBA title with small, incremental moves. You need the big, bold punch.
Bynum was that kind of a shot. It is hard to know when the next one might be coming. But in the meantime, if they are smart, the Sixers are going to be a very young team that probably loses more than it wins, and works to identify and develop the young players worth keeping, and manages its cash and its cap room so that it can be in a position to act when action makes sense.
So what kind of coach can make that work? The Sixers might be best off with the smartest guy you've never heard of.
On Twitter: @theidlerich