Chicago Bulls

Former Bulls coach Doug Collins named to Hall of Fame

Former No. 1 overall pick as player and longtime contributor to game is part of Class of 2024

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

If you watch a replay of "The Shot," Michael Jordan's hanging, series-deciding jumper over Cleveland's Craig Ehlo in 1989, then you have a sense of Doug Collins' personality.

The then-Chicago Bulls coach ran around the court in celebration, hugging anything and everything in his path, sweat-soaked and celebratory.

Passion is his strong suit.

And now that passion will forever be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Collins, who went 137-109 in three seasons as Bulls coach from 1986-1989, was named one of 13 honorees for the Class of 2024 on Saturday.

Collins, 72, will officially enter the Hall of Fame during enshrinement weekend in Springfield, Mass., the birthplace of basketball, on Aug. 16-17. He enters as a contributor, a nod to Collins' wide-ranging impact as a player, coach and broadcaster.

"Doug Collins' basketball accomplishments are special," said Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, a Class of 2016 inductee, in a statement. "Doug did enough to be an Olympic basketball star. He was one of the NBA's best guards and an All-Star four consecutive seasons before knee surgery prematurely ended his playing career. He then became a premier NBA coach who coached an All-Star game and a Basketball Hall of Fame Curt Gowdy award winner for his broadcasting and TV game anaylsis.

"But Doug, who is a dear friend, also holds a special place in the hearts of Chicago Bulls fans and the franchise as the coach who started the climb toward the great dynasty of the 1990s by leading the Bulls and Michael Jordan to the franchise's first 50-win season and conference finals appearance in more than a decade and later returning as an adviser and mentor to Bulls staff and coaches in the Tex Winter tradition.

"The Bulls congratulate Doug and are proud to have been a part of his legendary Hall of Fame career."

Collins sank perhaps the most pressure-packed free throws in Olympics history at the 1972 Games in Munich. He made two free throws with 3 seconds left in the gold-medal game against the Soviet Union to put the United States ahead by one point, only to lose in a controversial finish that led Collins and his teammates to reject their silver medals. The Soviet Union received three chances to inbound the ball before finally scoring.

Drafted No. 1 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1973, Collins averaged 17.9 points and made the aforementioned four All-Star appearances before injuries ended his career.

Hired by Jerry Krause and Reinsdorf with no previous head coaching experience, Collins' passion, detail recall and knowledge helped lead the Bulls to three straight playoff appearances, including a trip to the 1989 Eastern Conference finals.

Dismissed that offseason in a shocking move that led to Phil Jackson's hiring, Collins quickly established himself as one of the premier broadcasting analysts, calling out expected outcomes before they happened and breaking down complex concepts in easy-to-digest sound bites.

Collins returned to the sidelines with the Detroit Pistons, Washington Wizards and 76ers, improving each franchise by double-digit victories during his tenure. The second stop happened on Jordan's request when he ended his retirement to play for the team he owned. At Collins' last stop, he presided over the eighth-seeded 76ers first-round upset of the top-seeded Bulls in the 2012 NBA playoffs and was the first person to console Derrick Rose when Rose crumpled to the ground with an ACL tear in Game 1 of that series.

John Paxson, who replaced Krause in 2003, actually tried to hire Collins in 2008 after dismissing Scott Skiles. But Reinsdorf overruled Paxson, citing his close friendship with Collins, and the Bulls turned to Vinny Del Negro.

Paxson ultimately ended up hiring Collins in 2017 as a senior adviser. Collins enjoyed working with the coaching staff.

Collins, whose son, Chris, leads Northwestern's program, finished with a coaching record of 442-407. His Olympic experience finished full circle at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, when LeBron James and others asked Collins to join their gold-medal ceremony in recognition of his 1972 heartbreak and his broadcasting expertise at the 2008 Games.

Now, the kid from Benton, Ill., who attended Illinois State University will forever be enshrined in greatness as a Class of 2024 member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

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