Doug Collins is standing for a picture with high draft picks Stacy King and B.J. Armstrong. It’s an image frozen in time, like the Ode on a Grecian Urn. It’s 1989, the Bulls had gone all the way to the Conference Finals the year before, and the future in front of Collins is exceedingly bright. He’s been coaching Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and the Chicago Bulls — and now they may finally have the pieces to put an elusive championship run together. But it will never happen. Collins will be fired before he coaches the reinvigorated Bulls, who go on to win — well, you know — six titles under Zen master Phil Jackson. Hardly anybody even remembers Collins was there — and all he gets is the consolation prize of being reunited with Jordan again when MJ comes back to play a couple of subpar years with the Wizards.
Now the Bulls have hired Doug Collins back as a senior advisor. Collins is a great basketball mind, and he’ll crush the job. He’s been doing marvelous announcing for decades. But it’s got to be bittersweet, even if the competitor in Collins is only thinking about the present. Collins will see those trophies every day and must, at least once in a while, wonder about what could have been.