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Paul Douglas Collins (born July 28, 1951 in Christopher, Illinoismarker) is a retired American basketball player, and a former four-time NBA All-Star and NBA basketball coach.


High school

Collins enjoyed a successful high school basketball career at Benton High School in Benton, Illinoismarker, under renowned coach Rich Herrin, after which he went on to play for Illinois State Universitymarker in Normal, Illinois, in 1969.

1972 Olympics

Collins was chosen to represent the United States at the infamous 1972 Summer Olympics in Munichmarker, West Germany. While those games are mainly remembered for the terrorist attackmarker that left eleven Israelimarker athletes dead, there was also the controversial gold medal basketball game between the United States and the Soviet Union, in which Collins played a key part. The United States was undefeated in Olympic basketball competition history, and widely expected to remain undefeated after these Olympics. After Collins had hit two free throws, the time had apparently expired in the gold medal game; the United States had a 50–49 lead and seemed to have secured yet another gold medal. However, in a very controversial move, it was decided by the game's referees that there were still three seconds left to play, allowing the Soviets one more chance, which they utilized to make a lay-up. This gave the U.S. its first ever Olympic loss by a 51–50 margin.

Playing career

After that controversial game, Collins went on to be drafted by the Denver Nuggets of the American Basketball Association. In a 1973 supplementary draft, he was chosen by the New York Nets. Despite being drafted by ABA teams, he never played in that league, instead choosing to play in the NBA, where he had been the number one overall pick in the draft, picked by the Philadelphia 76ers. He only played 25 games his rookie year, the 1973–74 season, averaging 8 points per game.

His numbers improved substantially over the next few seasons, scoring almost 18 points and dishing out 2.6 assists while getting almost 4 rebounds per game in 81 games played during 1974–75 season, and then scoring 20.8 points per game and grabbing four rebounds per game in 1975–76. Collins made four All-Star teams in the late 1970s.

He kept tallying an average of about 19 points and four rebounds per game for the next three seasons, as the 76ers reached the NBA Finals during 1976–77 season. Although the team featured Julius Erving, among others, the Sixers could not overcome Bill Walton and the Portland Trail Blazers in those finals, losing four games to two.

During the 1978–79 season, Collins suffered a serious injury, which limited him to only 47 games that year, and eventually forced him into retirement as a basketball player. [102008] His last season was 1980–81, in which he would only play 12 games before announcing his retirement.

Collins scored a total of 7,427 points in 415 NBA games, for an average of 17.9 points per game, while grabbing 1,339 rebounds for 3.2 per game, and passing for 1,368 assists, averaging 3.3 assists a game. As the three point shots were new to basketball when Collins retired, he only took one of those during his NBA career, missing it.

Post-playing career

After his injury, Collins turned to coaching. He was the head coach of the Chicago Bulls from the middle to the late 1980s, where he coached Michael Jordan. Although the Bulls had a string of playoff appearances during Collins' tenure, they were unable to win a championship, and Collins was replaced by his assistant, Phil Jackson.

Collins was named the head coach of the Detroit Pistons in 1995, for whom he served until February 2, 1998, when he was fired despite a 54-28 record and replaced by Alvin Gentry. Collins then became a television broadcaster, working for many years at various networks, such as NBC on the NBA on NBC and TNT on the NBA on TNT. He worked as a broadcaster for about five years, before being hired to coach again, by the Washington Wizards, before the start of the 2001–02 NBA season. After the Wizards fired Collins following the 2002–03 season, he returned to announcing games for TNT.

In eight seasons as an NBA head coach, Collins amassed a 332–287 won-loss record (.536 winning percentage) and a 15–23 won-loss record in the playoffs (.395).

During the 2008 offseason, Collins was in negotiations to become the next head coach of the Chicago Bulls. However, according to the Chicago Tribune, Collins decided to withdraw his candidacy as coach. He also was a candidate for the Milwaukee Bucks coaching job in 2005, however he was passed over in favor of Terry Stotts.

Collins served as the analyst for NBC Sports TV coverage of basketball at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Coaching record

Team Season Season Record Playoff Record
G W L Win % Result W–L
Chicago Bulls 1986–1987 82 40 42 .488 Lost in first round 0–3
Chicago Bulls 1987–1988 82 50 32 .610 Lost in second round 4–6
Chicago Bulls 1988–1989 82 47 35 .573 Lost in Conference Finals 9–8
Detroit Pistons 1995–1996 82 46 36 .561 Lost in first round 0–3
Detroit Pistons 1996–1997 82 54 28 .659 Lost in first round 2–3
Detroit Pistons 1997–1998 45 21 24 .467 Missed Playoffs
Washington Wizards 2001–2002 82 37 45 .451 Missed Playoffs
Washington Wizards 2002–2003 82 37 45 .451 Missed Playoffs
Career 619 332 287 .536 15–23

Personal life

Doug and his wife Kathy have two children. Their son Chris, a former professional basketball player, is now an assistant coach at Duke Universitymarker and their daughter Kelly, who played basketball at Lehigh University, is a school teacher in Pennsylvania.

The basketball court at Illinois State Universitymarker's Redbird Arenamarker is named after Collins.


  1. Medium Well: Your NBC Olympics lineup - A blog on sports media, news and networks -

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