Wednesday , Apr , 21 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

O’Brien introduced in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – Jim O’Brien was introduced Wednesday as
the 20th head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers after the two sides agreed to
terms on a contract Tuesday.

O’Brien, a Philadelphia native who spent the last seven seasons in the
Celtics’ organization, replaces Chris Ford, who assumed the head coaching
duties on an interim basis after Randy Ayers was fired by the Sixers in
February.

“It’s something I was thinking about since I was eight years old,” O’Brien
said Wednesday of coaching in the city where he grew up. “I know the
traditions here. We all expect winners.”

Philadelphia ended the 2003-04 season with a 33-49 record, including a 12-18
mark under Ford. The 76ers missed the playoffs for the first time since the
1997-98 campaign.

The 52-year-old O’Brien resigned as coach of the Celtics in late January after
several conflicts with Danny Ainge, the team’s director of basketball
operations.

As a player, O’Brien was a three-year starter at Saint Joseph’s University in
the city. He led the team to an NIT appearance in 1972 and NCAA Tournament
berths in 1973 and ’74.

“I am thrilled to be back in Philadelphia,” O’Brien said. “It’s a great honor
to join a franchise I’ve been following since I was a little boy. It’s home.”

A popular name in the city for years, O’Brien was selected to the Saint
Joseph’s Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Big Five Hall of Fame in 1981.

His newest challenge will be coaching a team blighted by controversy
surrounding its star guard, Allen Iverson. Sixers general manager Billy King,
who introduced O’Brien on Wednesday, has said Iverson will be back with the
team next season, despite popular opinion that may not be true.

O’Brien appears ready for the challenge.

“I really want an opportunity to coach Allen Iverson,” O’Brien said. “I’m
looking forward to the challenge. You know the guys in the league you want on
your side, and you know the guys in the league you don’t want on your side.”

He added: “I always liked the look in (Sixers guards) Eric Snow and Aaron
McKie and Allen Iverson’s eyes when I competed against them. I love
competition.”

O’Brien took over in Boston for Rick Pitino on January 8, 2001 and compiled
an overall head coaching mark of 139-119 with the Celtics. Boston finished the
2002-03 season at 44-38 and was swept by the Nets in the second round of the
playoffs. The previous campaign, O’Brien guided the Celtics to the Eastern
Conference finals, where they fell to New Jersey. He was an assistant with the
club from 1997-2001.

In the collegiate ranks, O’Brien served as the head coach at the University
of Dayton from 1989-94 and led the Flyers to the MCC Tournament championship
in his first season at the school. Prior to coaching at Dayton, O’Brien
also served as an assistant to Pitino with the NBA’s New York Knicks.

PHI