Sixers facelift: O’Brien out, Cheeks in
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – The Philadelphia 76ers have fired head
coach Jim O’Brien and replaced him with former assistant and fan favorite
Cheeks becomes the 21st head coach of the 76ers and arrives in Philadelphia
after a stint of three-plus seasons as head coach of the Portland Trail
“Mo is family,” team president Billy King said. “Mo bleeds 76ers. He bleeds
O’Brien lasted just one season in Philadelphia after being introduced as the
head coach on April 21, 2004. He guided the 76ers to a 43-39 record and the
seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Philadelphia was ousted in
the first round of the postseason by the defending champion Detroit Pistons.
“Not one of them said they could not play for Jim and it wasn’t a decision
where it was a coup or anything of that nature,” King said. “I just felt the
direction we were going and the overall play wasn’t where we wanted to go.”
The 53-year-old O’Brien, a Philadelphia native, had spent the previous seven
seasons in the Celtics’ organization. He resigned as coach of Boston in late
January of 2004 after several conflicts with Danny Ainge, the team’s director
of basketball operations.
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.
The 48-year-old Cheeks was dismissed as coach of the Trail Blazers on March 2
after the club dropped 33 of its first 55 games this season. Portland went on
to post a 27-55 mark and missed the playoffs for the second straight year
after a string of 21 straight postseason appearances.
Cheeks, a product of West Texas State, was named Portland’s 10th head coach on
June 27, 2001 after seven years as an assistant in Philadelphia. He ended with
a record of 162-139 during his tenure with the Trail Blazers.
A four-time NBA All-Star during an impressive 15-year playing career, Cheeks
was a second-round pick of the 76ers in the 1978 draft and spent 11 seasons
with Philadelphia. He was the starting point guard for the 1983 championship
The Sixers have coveted Cheeks since Larry Brown resigned after the 2002-03
season, but were denied permission to speak with him by the Blazers.