Sep 172010
Sixers forward Andre Iguodala

Sixers forward Andre Iguodala

September 17 Philadelphia Daily News:

Doug Collins delivered a stirring text message to 76ers star Andre Iguodala before the gold-medal game of the FIBA World Championships in Istanbul. It was essentially the same message Collins, then a TNT analyst and now the new coach of the Sixers, delivered in person to the U.S. Olympic team before it left for Beijing in 2008.

Collins was part of the U.S. Olympic team that lost the 1972 gold-medal game to Russia, 51-50, in an excruciating, controversial finish. He has never forgotten the disappointment, the frustration, the emptiness. The players declined to accept their silver medals. Asked the location of his silver medal, Collins said, “I have no idea.”

“In 2008, I looked at Mike [Olympic coach Krzyzewski] and the players and said, ‘The bond you guys are going to create is one you’ll have forever,’ ” Collins said. ” ‘We were bonded in pain. I want you to be bonded in joy. I want you to hear the national anthem being played and to be able to put your hand over your heart and get that gold medal around your neck. It’s a feeling I did not have in ’72. I want you guys to have that experience.’ ”

Before the U.S. national team defeated Turkey, 81-64, to secure a 2012 Olympic berth, Collins told Iguodala, the team’s defensive stopper, “We had something taken away from us in ’72. I want you to have that feeling [of being champions].”

Collins was in regular communication with Iguodala during the tournament. Most recently, Collins had a telephone conversation with him, laying out the beginning of a plan for the Sixers‘ training camp, which opens Sept. 28 at Saint Joseph’s University. It might involve Iguodala participating in just one of the two daily practices. It might include having Iguodala sit out the first two or three preseason games.

Collins told Iguodala: “You’re a guy who wants to play every minute, every play. You’re a competitor, you love the game. But I’d like you to take a little break right now, get away, try and recharge your batteries, emotionally as much as anything. That way, as we get into the meat of our schedule, you’ll be fresh.””

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