CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls, coming off a surprisingly strong run through the playoffs, Thursday fired Coach Doug Collins, citing 'philosophical differences.'
'We know this will be an unpopular decision, but we truly believe this will be in the best interst of all parties,' Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and Vice President of Basketball Operations Jerry Krause said. 'We appreciate the effort Doug has given over the past three years.
'However, through the years philosophical differences between management and Doug over the direction the club was going grew to a point where the move was required. We wish Doug well in all his future endeavors.'
Collins had one year left on his contract. He did not allude to any differences, but said 'words will not describe the void I will feel not being a part of the Chicago Stadium and this great team.'
'When hired three years ago, I willingly accepted the challenge of leading the Bulls back to the type of team this city richly deserves.'
Collins led the Bulls to the Eastern Conference finals but the team was defeated by eventual NBA champion Detroit Pistons.
The Bulls, led by the electrifying play of Michael Jordan, finished the regular season with a 47-35 record -- good for fourth place in the Central Division. They upset Cleveland in the playoffs and beat New York before losing in six games to the Pistons.
Reinsdorf and Krause said they hope to 'offer the job to our first choice in the near future.'
Collins became the Bulls' ninth coach when he took over May 23, 1986, at age 36 -- the league's second youngest coach at the time. He went on to compile a 137-109 regular-season record.
Collins played for eight years with the Philadelphia 76ers. He averaged 17.9 points a game and made All-Star team four times.
A native of Benton, Ill., Collins starred at Illinois State, where he became the Redbirds' careeer scoring leader and was a No. 1 draft pick.
He started on the 1972 U.S. Olympic team that lost the controversial gold-medal game to the Soviet Union. Collins sank two free throws in the final seconds that apparently put the Americans ahead for good.
Collins worked as assistant coach under Bob Weinhauer at Pennsylvania in 1981. He rejoined Weinhauer at Arizona State for two years before coming to the Bulls in 1986.