Aug 132010

August 13 Philadelphia Inquirer

“After hiring highly regarded coach Doug Collins in May, and taking guard Evan Turner with the No. 2 pick in the June NBA draft, the 76ers on Thursday added the well-respected Rod Thorn to their front office by naming him team president.

The move reunites Thorn with Ed Stefanski, who has been the Sixers president and general manager since 2007. Stefanski, who relinquished his title of president and will remain as general manager, was on the staff when Thorn began a 10-year tenure as president of the New Jersey Nets in 2000.

The two did not know each other, but the new boss took a liking to the Penn grad. Under Thorn, Stefanski spent four seasons as director of scouting and one as vice president of basketball operations before being elevated to general manager in 2004.

The Nets turned in their franchise-best seasons with consecutive Eastern Conference championships in 2002 and 2003, and they claimed four Atlantic Division titles in five years. Trading for guard Jason Kidd, dumping Stephon Marbury and Keith Van Horn, and drafting Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson were some of the Nets’ key moves in that time period.

“Rod is my mentor in the NBA,” said Stefanski, who left the Nets for his hometown Sixers. “Besides that, we are very close friends. We work very well together. It’s tough to do both jobs. Both jobs are time-consuming, and sometimes overwhelming.”

Thorn said he was pleased to have Stefanski by his side again as he spoke during a news conference in the Hall of Fame Room at the Wells Fargo Center.

“In fact, some say that when Ed left, the Nets weren’t as good after that,” joked Thorn, who a few years ago was talking up Stefanski to the Sixers. “I have a lot of respect for Ed, both on a professional and personal level. And I look forward to working very closely with him as we go forward. He understands me, and I think I understand him. We make a good team, and hopefully that will take effect and be something we can all be proud of here.”

With a new owner having taken over the Nets after last season, Thorn said he resigned on July 16 with the idea of looking for other opportunities. His successor is Billy King, the former Sixers GM who was fired to make way for Stefanski.

In Thorn’s final season with the Nets, they challenged the record for futility established by the nine-win 1972-73 Sixers. The Nets’ 12-70 performance had a lot to do with Thorn dumping salaries over the last two seasons in an effort to clear space for the super 2010 free-agent class headed by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.”

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