76ers drop other shoe, fire Lucas

Published May 14, 1996|Updated Sept. 16, 2005

John Lucas once joked that he demanded three titles when he took the job of rebuilding the 76ers because friends told him to ask for as many as he could get.

Having been dismissed as vice president of basketball operations and general manager, Lucas was fired as coach Monday, three weeks after the team completed the season with the second-worst record in the NBA.

"We felt the best thing to do was move in a different direction," said Brad Greenberg, who last week was hired as general manager, replacing Lucas. Greenberg said he hoped to hire a new coach by the NBA draft June 26.

This season, Philadelphia was 18-64, better only than the expansion Vancouver Grizzlies. The 76ers set an NBA record for sustained futility by losing successively more games in each of the past six seasons.

Greenberg, a former Trail Blazers executive, met with Lucas last week. He said he decided to fire Lucas over the weekend.

Lucas was 42-122 in his two seasons with Philadelphia. Asked if he thought Lucas was a good coach, Greenberg said: "I like John, and I think he did the best he could."

Lucas, 42, said he understood why he was fired.

"This is a deal of wins and losses and I can accept the consequences of that," he said during a conference call. "I know a lot of (the losing) will point to me and that is what this job entails."

One obstacle was the inability to get a quality point guard. The 76ers failed in trying to switch Vernon Maxwell to the point. Then they signed Scott Skiles, only to have him retire within a few days.

Bulls on the brink

NEW YORK _ As weekends in New York go, the Chicago Bulls have to be satisfied with surviving two brutal games with the Knicks.

A split gave Chicago a 3-1 edge in the Eastern Conference semifinal series. Chicago can wrap up the series tonight at home.

The highly anticipated Bulls-Magic matchup seems just ahead.

"I don't think we're worried about Orlando, I think we just wanted to take control of the series once again. We came in here 2-0, we really didn't want to go back 2-2," Michael Jordan said after the Bulls held off the physically intimidating Knicks 94-91 on Sunday.

Now at 78-11, the Bulls need nine more victories to go down as the best team the NBA has ever seen. The Bulls probably can afford to look ahead because they got out of Madison Square Garden with their pride, their two-game lead and their egos mostly intact.

"We've got three games to win one," Jordan said. "We'd like to finish it as soon as possible, and their backs are to the wall. We've got to stand firm and try to end it."

RATINGS: Back-to-back weekend games between the Bulls and Knicks gave NBC a 4 percent ratings increase over the network's coverage from a year ago. The Bulls-Knicks game Sunday received a 13.9 rating and a 28 share. The weekend average for five games was a 9.4 rating and 24 share. Last year, five telecasts earned a combined 8.9-23.