By: Jeffrey Newholm
When one considers 1776 and the Declaration of Independence, the concept of freedom probably comes to mind. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt defined four freedoms: freedom of speech and religion, and from want and fear. But most NBA fans don’t care too much about philosophical musings of liberty. What 76er fans have been clamoring for the last two decades is something hitting closer to home: freedom from bad basketball. After five hideous years of rebuilding, the city that booed Santa Claus could soon have Christmas in May.
In 2012 the sixers devastated Bulls bandwagoners by becoming just the fifth #8 seed to win a first round series. After just missing the playoffs the next year, the team said a naughty word–the T word. Tank. And it was the ugliest tanking basketball fans have ever had the misfortune of watching. The team even set the major American sports record for longest losing streak in 2015 at 28. All along management spoon-fed suspicious fans that this was a part of “The Process”. But there was legitimacy to this outlook.
Phil Jackson, known to have coached the Bulls and Lakers to some exciting destinations, insisted that the goal isn’t the point. Competitive excellence, he said, is about methods rather than results. Methods involve continual input from athletes while rewards are fleeting. Even accepting a trophy for a win involves a gap in time from the performance to the reward. Frustration certainly built when Philadelphia finished in the lottery every year, especially with repeated draft pick injuries. But just a few years later, the sixers are a fresh face in the east playoff shuffle. And they may soon be in for a long waltz through the postseason.
Behind exciting young guns Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the Sixers currently sit at a healthy sixth in the east standings, five and half games clear to make the playoffs. But if recent rumors have merit, the franchise could soon become a power. Billboards around Cleveland invite LeBron James to come to Philly, and the King reportedly toured private schools in Philadelphia. Even if the team can’t sign LeBron, the addition of a veteran star could be just what the franchise needs to become a challenger. With most playoff teams in the east stuck in neutral, the process could soon reach a June destination, one which fans will be free, and encouraged to, celebrate.