It was eight years into his career when the end came for Doug Collins. After years of playing with broken feet, Collins career came to an end when he blew out his knee at age 29.
Meanwhile, eight years into Lou Williams career, the former Sixers sixth man is going through a similar injury. Saturday it was announced that Williams, now a member of the Atlanta Hawks, would miss the rest of the season after tearing up his knee in a game in Brooklyn on Friday night.
If there is anyone who understands what Williams is going through, its his old coach.
It made me sick, Collins said, when he heard about Williams injury. Lou is one of my favorite people -- the personality and energy he brought every night to the arena and in what he meant our locker room and how well he played and what he meant to our success over the years.
Obviously, advances in sports medicine have made it so a torn ACL is no longer the career killer it was when Collins has his in 1980. Nonetheless, Williams has surgery and a long, grueling rehab process in his near future.
Collins knows all about that, too.
And then to have that kind of injury, there is a lot of dedication and hard work that goes with that, Collins said. You have to really, really, really dedicate yourself to that and I hope he does that. The Hawks are really going to miss him, and I hate like heck to see anyone go through that, especially anyone I have such admiration for.
Then again, Williams is just 26, three years younger than Collins was when he had his injury during his eighth season. Besides, Collins injury paved the way for a Hall-of-Fame broadcasting career, as well as his first gig in coaching for the Chicago Bulls in 1986, when he was just 35. Its doubtful that Williams will follow that same path.
'Timmy' and the Spurs
Even in the best of seasons, every NBA team goes through its share of rough patches. How a team weathers those tough times -- or manages to eliminating them all together -- often determines its success.
According to Sixers coach Doug Collins, no team in the NBA has solved this puzzle better than the San Antonio Spurs.
I always use the Spurs as an example. Every team in the league is one day away from a crisis, except for the Spurs. Its like they do the best job at everything, Collins explained. They are the model of excellence and that starts with the quality people that they have. I cant talk like French national Tony Parker, but I remember him talking about the Spurs and saying, It all starts with Timmy. We just follow. And thats the way it is.
Timmy, of course, is future Hall-of-Famer Tim Duncan, who is undergoing a resurgence of sorts this season. Noticeably fitter and thinner, Collins was quick to point out how Duncan re-dedicated himself to his offseason workouts before the season and how well it has paid off.
In his 16th year, Duncan, 36, has raised his averages across the board, posting 17.3 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game. Thats not nearly as good as the numbers he posted during his prime, but as always, Duncan has been uncannily consistent.
And as Duncan goes, the rest of the Spurs follow.
The Spurs are precision at its finest, Collins said. When you watch them on tape and play against them, they execute as well as any team in the league.
E-mail John Finger at firstname.lastname@example.org