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After Getting Rid of Jordan, Wizards Do Same to Collins

May 31, 2003|From Associated Press

First Michael Jordan, now Doug Collins. And if Washington Wizard fans don't like it, they can get their money back.

Collins was fired as the Wizard coach Friday, three weeks after Jordan was shown the door by owner Abe Pollin. The widely expected move happened sooner than expected -- Pollin originally had pledged to let Jordan's yet-to-be-hired replacement decide Collins' fate.

"I think everybody had a sense all along that I was going to be fired," Collins said. "It was just a matter of when that was going to happen."

In a statement, Pollin said he made the move when he did to give Collins time to pursue other coaching jobs, but Collins had a different reason: the possibility that someone such as former Philadelphia coach Larry Brown could be interested in both coaching and running the front office.

"If they can get Larry Brown, they've hit a home run," Collins said.

Pollin also laid down a new challenge for himself in a separate letter that will be sent to season-ticket holders. After citing the unpopularity of his decision to dismiss Jordan, Pollin promised refunds to fans unhappy with his moves.

"My pledge to you: If you are not satisfied with the direction of our basketball franchise after this summer, I will refund your season-ticket deposit in full," Pollin wrote. A copy of the letter, dated June 2, was obtained by Associated Press.

Collins had two years left on his four-year contract, but his days were numbered once Pollin decided not to let Jordan, who had retired as a player again, return to the front office.

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Tubby Smith is staying at Kentucky and has "no interest" in coaching the Philadelphia 76ers.

Several unidentified NBA sources said 76er General Manager Billy King spent Thursday with Smith, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Friday. The newspaper's sources said King had been trying to talk Smith into taking the job.

"I have no interest in coaching the 76ers. I am very happy as the coach at Kentucky and extremely pleased with my new contract I signed last month," Smith said in a statement released by Kentucky's athletic department.

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The New Jersey Nets are thrilled to head back to the NBA Finals against league MVP Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs. That's not a knock on Duncan.

New Jersey just doesn't match up well against Shaquille O'Neal and the Lakers, who swept the Nets in the finals last year for their third consecutive NBA title.

When O'Neal plays, there is little the Nets can do to stop him. Against any other team, they feel they have a shot.

"Thirty-four is not there, so that helps," Jason Kidd said as the Nets practiced for the first time knowing their opponent for the finals, which start Wednesday. "Shaq changes the game by being out there. San Antonio has a guy like that in Tim Duncan."

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