Once upon a time the Philadelphia 76ers were a once proud franchise in this town. Throughout their long, storied history they’ve been lucky enough to have some of the greatest basketball players ever to play the game walk thru their locker room. Guys like Moses Malone, Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, and Allen Iverson, just to name a few, were all legitimate household names around the country. Philadelphia was an attractive place for top tiered players to land at. But somewhere along the way to the present time it all changed and the 76ers have been stuck in NBA mediocrity.
The 76ers have become irrelevant not only around the rest of the country but in their own town. Let’s face it 76ers games aren’t exactly attracting a crowd like the other 3 teams in Philly. The prices are way down to the point where you can get into a game for $10 for some sections. To me that’s a desperate sign of a franchise willing to do anything to get fans in the stands again. The new ownership of the 76ers has tried many gimmicks to get people into the stands and make this team relevant in town again. The Sixers started off the season strong and for a brief moment they began pulling people back in. Earlier in the season they went on a nice run beating some legitimate teams such as the Lakers and the Bulls. Recently though the team has struggled and fallen out of the top 4 in the Eastern Conference and at this point may not make the playoffs at all.
Success for any professional franchise is defined by one statistic and one statistic only and that’s wins. When the Sixers were winning earlier in the season people started getting excited about them again. It was a nice surprise for many to see this team come up big. But the fact of the matter is they still can’t hang with the true title contenders like the Miami Heat. This team is missing that true superstar that top teams in the league have.
Last week I was able to catch a fantastic documentary on Comcast SportsNet titled “Almost Answered”. It was the story of the 2000-01 76ers team that went all the way to the finals and lost to the Lakers. That documentary took me back to a time when the NBA was fun to watch and relevant in this town. Led by Allen Iverson that team was not only fun to watch but they had all the ingredients you wanted in a winning franchise. Since the Iverson era the Sixers have yet to draw people back in with that great superstar. They continue to force Andre Iguodala down our throats every season and let’s face it, the guy is a nice supporting player but not even close to the star Iverson was. This team needs someone that people will gravitate to in order to get noticed again and become an NBA powerhouse.
Right now this team is stuck in mediocrity. They’ll most likely either miss the playoffs entirely or make the playoffs again this season as a 7th or 8th seed in the East to only get bounced out in the first round by Miami, Boston, or Chicago. They have a nice group of young players and a fantastic coach in Doug Collins but the team needs that superstar to put them on the level of Miami and Chicago.
In my opinion it’s a pretty simple solution. Get bad. I’m talking about getting really bad for 2 or 3 seasons in a row. The best way out of mediocrity in the NBA is to just become a really awful team and begin stock piling top 10 draft picks every season for 2 or 3 seasons in row. Without a doubt that’s something no one in this town wants to see but in order to move above mediocrity in the NBA, unless you have the money to spend in free agency, it’s imperative that you get bad for a fair amount of years and just pick off top talent in the draft.
Sure making the playoffs every season is fun. But wouldn’t it be fun to have another superstar in this town like we had with Allen Iverson and Charles Barkley? This town deserves it. You can’t win a championship in the NBA being a 6, 7, or 8 seed. In other sports I’d say you have a shot no matter what as long as you get into the playoffs but not the NBA. This is a league driven by superstars and the only teams that win are teams with top talent. It’s time for the 76ers to wake up and realize escaping NBA mediocrity is only a few horrible seasons away. Now go out there and lose.