The Sixers stink as season is almost upon us and, frankly, I couldn’t be less enthused than I am to see our team take the court. Judging by the comments left after the online articles I’ve read, I’m certainly not the only one. I’ll watch games simply out of loyalty, but it’s going to take effort and become more of a chore than anything else.
Sure, this Sixers team and organization, overall, is continuing to rebuild. That’s the mantra. I still think the slogan dubbing last season as – Together We Build – could have been the worst, yet most honest, professional sports slogan I’ve ever come across. I haven’t seen the slogan on their website this season, but it should be donned prominently everywhere just in case people forgot or didn’t know the Sixers are slated to have the worst record in the NBA come mid-April.
Len and I have talked on the podcast show at length about the Sixers rebuild and the various components, decisions and deals made by general manager Sam Hinkie to put the team in a better position to be successful in the future. I get it. The league is shaped a certain way, and the Sixers management (and other teams) is exploiting it. Therefore, Hinkie can continue accumulating assets – draft picks, cap space, you name it. I’ve questioned, when is enough, enough. And I think the Sixers fan base needs to do the same. Hinkie has proven without a doubt he has no problems with losing, and losing big. What he has done with this team over the course of the past year, I’d venture to make a bet that the 2012 Bobcats could give our current players a run for their money. At the end of the line – years down the line – Hinkie wants to not only consistently make the playoffs, but inevitably hold that NBA Championship trophy in a parade down Broad Street. Again, I get it.
However, I hope the embracing and stronghold of tanking isn’t doing more detriment to the future of the organization and fan base than Hinkie might have envisioned.
While we know that head coach Brett Brown is a solid developmental coach coming here from San Antonio, he doesn’t have a track record as ever having been a part of a massive and monumental rebuild such as this. The same thing goes for Hinkie. While I think that Hinkie, from a draft perspective, has been a good evaluator of talent, we’re in a holding pattern and situation of wait and see with the players he drafted this year: Joel Embiid, especially Dario Saric, K.J. McDaniels, and Jerami Grant. We really don’t have an idea how these players will develop in the NBA. It really could be a total and utter flop. We don’t know how great or horrible Brown and Hinkie are at a colossal reconstruction.
It also begs the question; what are they doing competitively and mentally to the true talent on the team? I’m talking about Michael Carter-Williams. While making millions of dollars annually should help their frame of mind, I can’t imagine going to my job every day knowing that I have great talent and it’s being downright squandered. As a result, if I were MCW, I’d be saying to myself, will I ever get a chance to see the playoffs with the hole this team has dug for itself and me? Will I ever be able to generate my contractual postseason bonus money? How will this tank job correlate with my legacy? It’ll get old for MCW real quick, and then what happens to the talent? Future money and reputation is at stake, too.
There’s also a detriment that the persistent tanking does to the Sixers fan base, which needs to be discussed. Unless I get a free ticket to a game this year, I likely won’t be heading down to the Wells Fargo Center to watch a game. Why waste a decent chunk of money on watching slop when you have very talented college and even high school teams right in our backyards. Listen, even though we know what’s coming, there’s going to be a bad taste left in fans’ mouths – even with the hardcore season ticket holders. Remember when fans were caught sleeping at games last year? Remember when the Sixers actually lost to the Bucks by 20-points in February? Just wait because it’ll be much worse this year. I’m envisioning more paper bags with frown faces than actual faces in the crowd.
Inevitably, it’s unfortunate that the NBA is set up and structured so that teams need to fail miserably, and on purpose, to have a shot at being a contender. Commissioner Adam Silver initiated and the owners just voted down making changes to the NBA Draft Lottery, which was welcomed by many – of course, not the Sixers (and Thunder). I applaud the initiative even though it failed to pass. It was undoubtedly not the perfect pedigree for better professional basketball and reform, but at least it was something. We’ll still have the current system in place at least for another year.
I hope the Sixers aren’t doing more harm to the fan base, their chances for success and the league as they pin their every last hope on losing. In three years we’ll be able to look back to see if the monumental fall lead to a monumental success and championship. I feel bad for that guy who might be 96-years-old and is holding out hope to see another modern day championship team. That poor guy doesn’t have the patience – or possibly time – for this kind of nonsense. So my final question is; do we have the patience?