Wednesday, February 11, 2004

PHILADELPHIA — Interestingly enough, Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan was the first choice of the Philadelphia 76ers to replace Larry Brown. And it was almost a foregone conclusion that had he stayed in New Jersey as Byron Scott’s top assistant, Jordan eventually would have been hired to replace Scott, who was fired recently and replaced by Lawrence Frank.

On Tuesday, Brown’s replacement, Randy Ayers, was fired in Philadelphia.

Jordan had avoided talking about these situations until yesterday.

“I read both situations — all three, Jersey being the third,” Jordan said. “I was advised to stay in New Jersey because [Scott’s firing] was going to happen. If it did, frankly, I thought I’d be in a tough spot in New Jersey, taking over for Byron because of all the things the press and the media claimed that happened behind the scenes. I didn’t want that.”

Jordan said all sorts of people — agents, friends and some family as well — advised him to take the Philadelphia job if offered.

“They had talent,” Jordan said. “They had tough talent and players that had been to the finals, and they were a team that could get back to the playoffs. But for my own reasons, I decided that this wasn’t as good as the Washington job.”

After a long day spent with Wizards owner Abe Pollin last summer, Jordan was heading back to his New Jersey home contemplating the Sixers job, for which he was scheduled to interview and was considered the top candidate. Pollin called Jordan and convinced him to take the Wizards job as Jordan was driving through Philadelphia.

“Mr. Pollin would not let me off the phone,” Jordan said.

Jordan also acknowledged for the first time that there had been some serious friction in New Jersey while he was there and after he left.

“It’s no secret that guys weren’t happy at certain times the last two years,” Jordan said. “If that change were to take place I was advised that I would take the team. I didn’t want that job under those circumstances.”

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