The I-76ers

I Am a Philadelphia 76ers Fan, I Am Not Embarrassed

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The Philadelphia 76ers (15-46) have the second worst record in the league. They stand 2.5 games behind the Bucks in the tanking race, and are in prime position to catch them. They have lost 15 in a row, and now have a scoring differential of -11.3.

All of this, you already know. The awful records that this team has set, along with the records that other teams have set against them, are thrown at fans faster than a Byron Mullens three-ball. The Sixers are more talked about than ever, headlining the tanking circus that has taken the NBA by storm this year. Many argue that the people of Philadelphia should be “embarrassed” by the way our hometown team is playing. Many analysts, especially the old-school basketball gurus, believe that teams should be built to compete every single year. They say that since the draft is a crapshoot, teams are best off making their city proud and trying their best every single year. “Come on, when’s the last time a good player came out of the draft?”-Jody McDonald, probably.

What I would like to know is what move exactly these people disagreed with. Let’s begin with the infamous Jrue Holiday trade from the 2013 draft, the first domino to fall in the tank. How do most of these “analysts” value Jrue Holiday? Although they love labeling him the “23-year-old all-star”, they fail to recognize a few things. In a conference with injury-riddled point guards, along with inflated stats due to playing for a subpar team, Jrue was chosen as a reserve one time. He is a great player, and a great man. But is he worth a $43 million cap hit over four years? Making that kind of money, for a team that desires a championship, is pretty much counting on Jrue to be the best or second-best player on that title-winning squad. Point to me anybody that believes Jrue is not worth two top-ten draft picks (Nerlens Noel and the 2014 Pelicans first-rounder).

For Sixers GM Sam Hinkie, this entire season has never been about tanking. Josh Harris has a vision of a championship, and Hinkie has a vision of what a championship team looks like. In hiring Brett Brown, and targeting certain players, he is developing a culture. Both Sam and Brett favor athletic, tall, hard-working players. This is why players such as Kwame, Turner, Hawes, and Lavoy are no longer with the team.  This is also why you see Arnett Moultrie spending most of his time on the bench. Hinkie has said multiple times that Thaddeus Young fits the bill of exactly what they are trying to build, and this is why I doubt they would let him go for anything less than what he deserves. Hinkie started from scratch, beginning with a “can’t say no” trade offer for Jrue Holiday. Since then, he has weeded out players who do not fit his vision, and stockpiled assets while shipping out expiring contracts, as any good GM would do.

So what part of all of this is embarrassing? Acquiring two top-ten picks for an all-star reserve/hefty contract? Acquiring six second-round picks for three expiring deals? I am a Philadelphia 76ers fan, and I am not embarrassed at all. Embarrassing, to me, is the Bucks putting out a roster that was designed to make the playoffs and only having 12 wins. Embarrassing, to me, is the Knicks having a roster that includes a superstar and other highly paid NBA players and only being 6.5 games above the Sixers. Embarrassing, to me, is that same Knicks team having no draft picks or cap space for the next 37 years. Embarrassing, to me, is the @MySportsLegion account’s need to incessantly CAPITALIZE words and call everything UNREAL, but that is for a different day.

This has never been about tanking. It is about young players, cheap contracts, developing a culture, and building something special from scratch. Doug Collins and first round exits (also known as “pride”) was fun for three years, but it was time for a change. So maybe these antagonists would have preferred the Sixers to max-out Al Jefferson. Maybe they wanted the Sixers to keep Jrue Holiday and trade our first-rounder for someone like Andrea Bargnani. Maybe they should have given Turner an extension and drafted Cody Zeller, a “win-now” player. Well, there is not one move that I would change. I am prouder than ever to be a Philadelphia 76ers fan, and I think any fans that are worried should just relax and feel safe in the open arms of Sam Hinkie. He will not lead you astray

See you in 2017, sports media.