Saturday, December 13, 2008

Cheeks out; DiLeo in

The Philadelphia 76ers have fired head coach Maurice Cheeks.

The team's director of player personal Tony DiLeo, will take over the top spot on an interim basis.

“Decisions of this nature are never easy, and this was particularly difficult due to the great amount of respect I have for Maurice Cheeks,” Stefanski said. “However, at this time I felt that it is in the best interest of this team to make a change while there is still time to accomplish the goals we set forth for ourselves at the start of the season.

“Tony DiLeo has a wealth of basketball knowledge and coaching experience – both in the NBA and on the international level – and is familiar not only with our current group of players but the style of play we are striving to attain on a consistent basis.”

DiLeo is in his 19th season with the Sixers organization and was in his fifth as the team’s Senior Vice President and Assistant General Manager.

During his tenure with the Sixers, DiLeo has been involved in every aspect of the team’s basketball operations. In his role as Senior Vice President and Assistant General Manager, DiLeo was responsible for assisting Stefanski with player procurement via his evaluation of amateur and professional talent while supervising the team’s draft efforts and overseeing the college and professional scouting systems. Prior to that, DiLeo spent four seasons as the Sixers Director of Player Personnel (1999-2003) and has served as an Assistant Coach under Larry Brown, Jim Lynam, Fred Carter, John Lucas and Doug Moe.

DiLeo has extensive experience in international basketball as both a player and a coach. He coached the former West German men’s and women’s teams from 1979-90, winning nine national titles in that country’s top division, earning Coach of the Year honors in 1987. Additionally, he was selected as the West German federation National Coach from 1981-85 and during that time, wrote and published the European Basketball Handbook, a guide designed to acclimate American players overseas.

A star at Cinnaminson (N.J.) High School, DiLeo went on to play at Tennessee Tech and LaSalle University, where as a junior he was named first-team Academic All-American and went on to graduate maxima cum laude from the LaSalle School of Business.

Cheeks was named the 21st head coach in team history on May 23, 2005. In just over three seasons at the helm for Philadelphia, Cheeks compiled a mark of 122-147 (.454).

Last season, Cheeks guided the Sixers to the NBA Playoffs for the first time since the 2004-05 season, after starting the year with an 18-30 record. The Sixers went on to win 18 of their next 23 games, becoming just the sixth team in NBA history to go over .500 after being at least 12 games below .500 at some point during the same season.

In 2006-07, Cheeks helped rally the Sixers from a 5-19 start to make a push for the playoffs with a 35-47 record. Philadelphia increased their winning percentage to .519 in games played after January 1, compared to a winning percentage of just .267 during the first two months of the year – the biggest improvement by any team in the league during that span. The Sixers also tied for the eighth best winning percentage after the All-Star break (18-11; .621).

In his first season as head coach of the Sixers, Cheeks guided the team to a 38-44 mark and fell just two wins shy of reaching the post-season. On April 18 of that year, he earned the 200th win of his coaching career.

Cheeks record as an NBA head coach with both Portland and Philadelphia stands at 284-286 (.498).

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