- The Washington Times - Friday, April 20, 2001

Doug Collins led the NBA in meltdowns in his two previous coaching stints, first in Chicago and then in Detroit.

Most coaches work in Armani suits. Collins works in a straitjacket.

Collins goes to work frothing at the mouth, with his eyes rolled in the back of his head, and smoke coming out of his ears.

The first question put to Collins each day is this: Doug, have you taken your medication today?

Collins is the antithesis of the ever-serene Zen master, who has been caught sleeping on the job with the Lakers this season.

Michael Jordan is familiar with both styles, the Zen and the Zeal.

"I put my heart and soul into it," Collins said during his unveiling at the DMZ Center yesterday. "I care, sometimes too much."

Collins sometimes cries, too.

So let this be a warning: There is no crying in baseball, and there is no crying in Tony Cheng's neighborhood.

No one was crying in Leonard Hamilton's memory the day following his surrender. Who's he?

Jordan apparently gave Hamilton two options after the team's loss Wednesday night. Hamilton could resign or he could quit. Which would it be?

As Jordan explained it, the parting came amid an almost humanitarian spirit. Hamilton was not happy with the 19-63 season, to say the least, stressed out and suffering from a season-long case of heartburn. After Hamilton discovered he couldn't threaten to take away the scholarships of his players, he went to his backup plan, which was: Consume large quantities of Pepto-Bismol.

Hamilton and Jordan discussed where everything was nearly two weeks ago, and Jordan took this as an opportunity to telephone Collins. The two had their problems at one time in Chicago. They were considerably younger then, full of themselves, convinced they had all the answers, and really, whatever problems they had, they were grossly exaggerated in the Chicago press.

Jordan did not scheme to have Collins fired in Chicago, and Jordan was glad to have this chance to make that clear. The two resolved their differences long before Collins was dumped in favor of the Zen master, and now, if you must know, Collins is older, wiser, and only too eager to begin this reclamation project.

"When Michael called me on the phone [about the job], I knew he respected me," Collins said.

Respect is important among all the parties, starting with the players. This is not to neglect Rod Strickland, who now does his roadside sobriety tests in Portland, Ore. He set a tone this season. He told Jordan and Hamilton what they could do with their concept of professionalism, and it couldn't have helped the impressionable ones on the roster.

Jordan was not able to inspire Strickland, and he missed his prediction of the team securing a playoff berth by a couple of games, and he is still stuck at 99.9 percent against playing again.

Three months from now, who knows? By then, Jordan could be 99.99 percent against playing again or he could be 99.999 percent. You just never know. Life is funny like that.

You wake up one day and you're the coach of an NBA team. You wake up the next day and you have an ice pack on your head and a future that is 99.9 percent uncertain.

Changing coaches has become habit-forming with the Wizards. It is hard to believe that Jim Brovelli is already four coaches ago.

Collins doesn't last anywhere too long, possibly because his collar is extra tight.

"I demand excellence," he said.

See, Collins already is courting a problem. Who said anything about excellence? Washington would throw the franchise a ticker-tape parade in exchange for ordinary.

"There are no shortcuts in this business," Collins said.

Tell us about it.

Strickland is standing on the side of a road somewhere, trying to touch his nose with the tip of his index fingers, Juwan Howard is hanging out with Mark Cuban's United Nations crew, and Mitch Richmond has a moving van in his driveway.

Collins and the Wizards are 0-0, as Susan O'Malley pointed out to start the news conference.

That sounds like a winner in these parts.

Collins is 0-0, Jordan 99.9.

For now, it all adds up to whatever.

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