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Former Celtics coach replaces Ford

4/20/2004 - Philadelphia 76ers

PHILADELPHIA -- 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.