New coach Brett Brown has decided to let former Sixer Aaron McKie go from the coaching staff and we all need to stop and say thanks.
Last week, lost among all the righteous anger over the Philadelphia Phillies firing of manager Charlie Manuel was the story that new Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown has decided to let go all three of the team’s assistant coaches, Michael Curry, Aaron McKie and Jeff Capel, all of which were under contract for the 2013-14 season.
Now this is hardly surprising and a move most were expecting. In fact it was pretty much a foregone conclusion when it came to Michael Curry, who was a candidate for the head coaching job until Sam Hinkie finally decided on Brown. How awkward would that have been? And as far as Jeff Capel, he was brought in with Doug Collins and the fewer Collins people on the bench the better as far as I’m concerned.
But Aaron McKie? That hurts. It hurts a lot.
Because McKie is a Philly guy through and through. Hailing from North Philadelphia, he played at Simon Gratz High School where had an outstanding career and then went on to Temple University where he played under the legendary John Chaney. All of that led to him being drafted with the 17th overall pick in the 1994 NBA Draft.
Over the course of a 15 year NBA career, he played for four different teams, but it was his time with the Philadelphia 76ers that led to his greatest achievements, including a trip to the NBA Finals in 2001, the same year he won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award. When his playing career ended in 2007, he almost immediately joined the Sixers as an assistant coach, where he has been ever since. With the Sixers he worked under four different coaches and learned as a player from one of the best, Larry Brown.
I remember going to watch him play at old McGonigle Hall on the Temple University campus and being impressed with his skills on the court. When teamed up with future NBA All-Star Eddie Jones, the two became quite the tandem, something I got to see and marvel at in person when I got the chance to go to the Palestra to watch the Atlantic 10 tournament.
And through it all, he did his hometown proud. Many hoped to see him eventually become the Sixers head coach someday, but with all the changes to the team in recent years, that just wasn’t meant to be.
So thanks Aaron. Thanks for all the years of great basketball and hours upon hours of highlight reel worthy action. Thanks for being such a big part of the last time Sixers fans had something to really cheer about, the trip to the Finals in 2001. Thanks for sticking with the team as a coach when it was painfully obvious that no one there really knew what the hell they were doing and the Sixers had no direction.
But most of all, thanks for making Philly proud. We’re going to miss you.