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76ers hire Jim O'Brien as new coach
Updated: 2004-04-21 09:09

The Philadelphia 76ers hired Jim O'Brien as coach Tuesday, handing the former Boston Celtics coach a team that could be on the verge of a major rebuilding project.

O'Brien replaces Chris Ford, who was promoted from assistant on an interim basis after Randy Ayers was fired on Feb. 10. O'Brien will be introduced as Philadelphia's 20th head coach at a 3 p.m. news conference Wednesday.

O'Brien stepped down as coach of the Celtics on Jan. 27 after clashing with Danny Ainge, the team's executive director of basketball operations. O'Brien was 139-119 with the Celtics and led them to the Eastern Conference finals and semifinals the last two seasons.

He'll be the third coach to lead the Sixers since Hall of Famer Larry Brown stepped down last May. Brown, who spent six seasons in Philadelphia, coaches the Detroit Pistons.

Ayers, an assistant under Brown with the Sixers, was fired after posting a 21-31 record. Ford, who had several run-ins with All-Star guard Allen Iverson, led Philadelphia to a 12-18 record, and the team missed the playoffs for the first time since the 1997-98 season.

A Philadelphia native who attended Roman Catholic High School and Saint Joseph's, O'Brien is the son-in-law of Hall of Fame coach Jack Ramsay. The Celtics were 22-24 when O'Brien resigned midway through his fourth season.

The Sixers are entering a pivotal offseason.

Though Iverson is signed through 2008-09, it's possible he could be traded this summer. Several other veterans, including Derrick Coleman, Glenn Robinson, Eric Snow and Aaron McKie, also might be made available.

O'Brien's tenure in Boston ended because he and Ainge had different views on personnel. Ainge wanted to build a younger, more offensive team. O'Brien relied on veterans who were strong defenders.

O'Brien, 52, spent the last seven seasons with the Celtics, joining them as an assistant coach in 1997. He replaced Rick Pitino in 2001.

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