He didn't have to be there. In fact, Thorn didn't
Positioning New Jersey for a potentially rapid rebuilding process was another feather in Thorn's cap. An All-America at West Virginia in the early '60s, Thorn has a résumé that includes a stint as general manager of the Bulls (where he was involved in the decision to draft
Thorn didn't need another job. But he wanted one.
"You know, I still enjoy the challenge of trying to build a team," Thorn said in a telephone interview. "If you look at some of the guys my age who just retire, a majority look back a year or so down the road and are sorry they did it. I still wanted to be a part of this."
Philadelphia, with its young core and proximity to New Jersey, presented an ideal fit. Thorn did have a few reservations, most notably the fact that his presence in Philadelphia would usurp the authority of general manager
"I had some trepidations, honestly, to begin with," Thorn said. "We worked together for seven years in New Jersey. I wanted to make sure that he was still going to be here. I value his knowledge and his friendship."
Thorn already has a strong vision for what kind of team he would like the Sixers to be. Part of that vision includes
With or without Anthony, Thorn is optimistic about his team's prospects this season. He talks about how the offense will be inverted, with a group of skilled low-post guards (
"Our success depends on how our bigs play," Thorn said.
The success or struggles of Brand, in particular, will be a major factor in the Sixers' season. Brand's struggles since signing with Philadelphia in 2008 have been well chronicled, bottoming out with a career-low 13.1 points (in 76 games) last season. Thorn says Brand is in excellent shape after playing last season "a little heavy." And after the power forward looked lost in
"Last year, hopefully, was an aberration," Thorn said. "It didn't work last year. He was playing an offensive set that didn't fit him as much as it would fit others. "Anyone's confidence would be hurt by not being a part of as many game plans. He has done everything he can to prove to everybody that he is still a top-flight player. And he's a prideful guy. I think it was hurtful to him that people think he doesn't have as much as he once did."
At times during last season's 27-win nightmare, it felt like the Sixers needed an overhaul. Thorn, however, feels the team just needs to retool rather than rebuild.
"We need to acquire assets as we go along," Thorn said. "We have some pieces, we do have some athletes. An attitude adjustment from last year certainly would be part of it. But our staff has been here for weeks, talking, watching, observing. Our team is in a very good place right now. They want to turn around what transpired last year. Our season last year was not what this team really is. You will see."