December 20, 2017
By: Steve Degler
There was a time that I really enjoyed watching the NBA in general and the Philadelphia 76ers in particular. That is no longer the case for either. The NBA bores me. The same teams compete for the title every year. The style of play is not entertaining to me. Basketball is supposed to be more than the pick-and-roll.
As for the Sixers, I've tried to get interested in them. The whole "Trust the Process" mantra is something I never bought. I can't support a plan of trying to lose for years hoping you become good in the future. Maybe I'm too old school, but I always thought you took the floor with the intention of winning the game. I know, strange concept, right?
What has really surprised me is how much of a fan base they have maintained throughout all the seasons of tanking games. I haven't watched a 76ers game on TV in years. Why give up two hours when you already know the result and the team appears to be okay with that result? Sorry, there are better things to do and watch.
Needless to say, I haven't watched the Sixers play in person for a long, long time. Until last Friday night. I was able to get some tickets for the Oklahoma City game. The "process" of getting there was almost as long as the Sixers "Process." After a four-plus hour ride through two inches of snow that completely paralyzed the Delaware Valley, we got to the Wells Fargo Center...at halftime.
Luckily, the two teams decided to play three overtimes, so we were able to see a good amount of hoops. There is no denying that the Sixers have the makings of a pretty good team. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons form a very young and very talented nucleus. They helped overcome a late 11-point deficit to force overtime. But the Thunder have Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. They were able to outlast the Sixers and get the win.
The 76ers made some critical mistakes in overtime. You hope it is just a matter of the youngsters learning how to win. They're hovering around the .500 mark and many think they will be a playoff team. I'm not quite ready to go that far but if they can take that step, it should help get the attention of potential free agents. Translation: better players will be interested in Philadelphia because the team is a contender.
The whole Embiid situation puzzles me as well. His injury history is well documented. The team is not letting him play on back-to-back nights. They are limiting his minutes. Except for Friday against the Thunder. He played 49 minutes in that game with a balky back. He wasn't a definite "go" before game time and then plays the equivalent of an entire regulation game? Seems strange to me. But he has the chance to be a big-time player if he can stay healthy. And Simmons reminds many of Magic Johnson. Watching him in person makes it easy to see that comparison. He is so big and athletic which presents match-up problems for the opponent.
Does this all mean the Sixers have recaptured my attention after all these years? Let's just say I'm noticing them a little more. Not watching games at this point. And not on the bandwagon just yet. But I hope they do become relevant again. The NBA is much better when the 76ers are a factor.