Extra Points: Sixers should’ve made a trip to Wildwood for new HC
By DAVID WEINBERG
The 76ers' coaching search ended too soon; Instead of hiring Nick Nurse to replace Doc Rivers, they should have taken a road trip to the Jersey Shore. If they had, the Sixers might well have decided to hire Wildwood Crest's Frank Vogel.
Given his last name, 76ers President Daryl Morey should have had no trouble finding the town. But just in case the Maps app on his phone didn't work, he could have simply followed the crowd over the Walt Whitman Bridge on some Friday afternoon, headed to the bottom of the Garden State Parkway, veered left at the base of the Cape May Bridge and cruised along Ocean Drive.
If he had time, maybe the trip could have included a stop at Mooncussers, the Harbor View, or Two Mile Landing for an Orange Crush and some fish tacos before venturing into Wildwood Crest.
That's where they would have found Vogel.
To me, Vogel, a Wildwood High School graduate, would have been the perfect fit to coach the Sixers.
Vogel knows what it takes to win a championship, having guided Lebron James and the Lakers to the NBA title in 2020. He also coached the Indiana Pacers to back-to-back appearances in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, something the Sixers haven't sniffed since Allen Iverson and Head Coach Larry Brown lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals 22 years ago.
There are other Sixers-Wildwood connections: Among the fans who watched the Sixers in 2001 was the late Paul Franco. Franco, a Wildwood Crest native who passed away in 2021, was a long-time season-ticket holder whose family has owned the Bal Harbour Hotel in the Crest since 1973.
In 2018, when James was opting out of his contract with the Cavaliers, Franco put up a billboard on Route 47 on the way toward Wildwood that read, "PHILLY WANTS LEBRON" in giant letters. Just below it, in smaller script, the advertisement said, "AND SO DO THE BAL HARBOUR HOTELS."
James wound up signing with the Lakers, where he was coached by Vogel, who owns a 431-389 career regular record as head coach of the Pacers, Magic, and Lakers.
Perhaps most important than Vogel's coaching resume is his intangibles - Having coached the Pacers and Lakers, he's used to dealing with superstars such as LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Paul George. He knows how to handle stars, which would come in handy with Joel Embiid and James Harden, should Harden somehow wind up staying in Philadelphia.
But more than anything, Vogel understands the Philly sports culture.
Being from the area means he has thick skin, which is a prerequisite for coaching in front of a demanding fan base and a persistent media contingent. He could handle the fans' boos and the calls in to sports talk radio.
He learned that during his stint as an assistant under former Sixers head coach Jim O'Brien in 2004-05, not to mention spending his boyhood summers on the Wildwood Boardwalk.
Wa-Wa-Watch the Tram Car Please. Instead, no Vogel and a Nurse replaces "Doc" in Philadelphia.
*Remember to catch Dave Weinberg each week on GameNight with Josh Hennig on for "Weinberg Wednesdays" on 973 ESPN Radio South Jersey*