Sixers hire Jeff Ruland as assistant coach

Jeff says: Ruland, a former NBA big-man, is a big dude. For all you size-challenged people out there, if Ruland ever decides to fall asleep while standing up, and you happen to be near him, move away, quickly. Why would he fall asleep standing up? No reason at all. Just saying, if for some absurd reason that ever happened, get out of the way. Anyway, here’s the news release:

Philadelphia 76ers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski announced today that Jeff Ruland has been hired as an assistant coach.  Ruland’s main area of concentration as part of Head Coach Maurice Cheeks’ staff will be to work with and help develop the Sixers post players.

“That I am able to add a coach with the experience and credentials of Jeff Ruland to my staff is exciting,” Cheeks said. “He’ll be an invaluable resource for our players – particularly our big men – and an asset to the organization as a whole.”

“I’m excited to re-join the 76ers and have the opportunity to help the organization reach the goal of winning a championship, as well as return to a city that is very close to me and my family,” Ruland said. “I owe a lot to the Thunderbirds and the ownership there. Sam Bregman and David Kahn played a large part in my move back to the NBA. I am a shining example of how the NBA Development League continues to prosper and promote, not only players, but coaches as well.”

An eight-year NBA veteran, Ruland most recently served as head coach of the Albuquerque Thunderbirds of the NBA Development League during the 2007-08 season.  Prior to that, Ruland was head coach of his alma mater Iona, helping the Gaels secure three NCAA Tournament berths during his nine seasons at the helm.

A two-time NBA All-Star, Ruland appeared in 332 career games with 189 starts, averaging a point-rebound double-double with 17.4 ppg and 10.2 rpg.  His best season came with Washington in 1983-84 when he led the NBA in minutes played while averaging 22.2 points, 12.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists.

In June of 1986, the Sixers acquired Ruland and Cliff Robinson from the Bullets in exchange for Moses Malone, Terry Catledge and two first round draft picks.  However, a knee injury forced Ruland to retire after just five games with the Sixers.  Five years later, he came out of retirement to join the Sixers during the 1991-92 season, but suffered a torn Achilles after appearing in 13 games.

Following his second retirement from the NBA in 1993, Ruland again returned to the Sixers, this time as an assistant coach on Fred Carter’s staff during the 1993-94 season.  In 1995, Ruland was hired as an assistant coach at Iona College by Tim Welsh, who most recently completed a 10-year run as head coach at Providence College.

During his playing career at Iona, Ruland was coached by the legendary Jim Valvano.  Ruland played for several coaches during his NBA career, including two current members of the Sixers staff, assistant coach Jim Lynam and scout Gene Shue.

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