Monday, March 11, 2013

Can This Sixers Season End Early? Please?

Basically, the 2012-13 Sixers
This is how bad it has gotten: at 6pm on a Sunday afternoon, with the TV options being my Sixers playing Orlando, or the Heat playing the Pacers... it's not even a consideration to watch my laundry.

And it's not (just) that my team is having a terrible year, or that the entire time has been spent in a pointless production of "Waiting For Godot" where Godot is a 7-footer with hands and hair, but no heart or knees. I could take all of that, honest I could. I'm a Sixers fan; I know bad basketball and suspect big men and getting sold a bill of goods that never arrive. I watched through the Shawn Bradley Era and the Roy Hinson Experience and the Armon Gilliam Tragedy. I can tell you what it's like to be in the building and rooting for Dana Barros and Jeff Hornacek and Andrew Lang and Sharone Wright and hundreds of other guys that I never want to think about, ever again.

And it's not that they were playing the Magic, who combine the misery of being borderline unwatchable themselves, but with the stat-loving hands of Nicola Vucevic and the mildly promising young'un Maurice Harkless in the starting line up. Orlando is going to be lucky to win 25 games this year, despite "winning" the Dwight Howard trade and setting themselves up to have any kind of future at all. (Turns out, of course, I made the right call. Losers by 8 tonight.)

(Tangent: I was riding around the other day, punching buttons on the radio dial, and heard a sports talk guy ask the question of his listeners, "Fill in the blank. Andrew Bynum is the biggest disaster in Philadelphia since..." And the only answer I could think of was "MOVE." And we're back to the post.)

How dispiriting is this collection of Sixers talent? So much so that even Jrue Holiday, the team's first All-Star since Andre Iguodala and the best point guard to wear the colors since Mo Cheeks (because, well, Allen Iverson was never really a point guard) has been ground down to meh. So much so that Damian Wilkins not only gets run here, but 37 minutes of burn tonight in a freaking start. (He went 16-1-6 with four turnovers on 6 of 12 shooting, so I guess he was hot or something. And honestly, I have no earthly idea why Wilkins is getting minutes, given that he's old, horrible, and shouldn't be in the NBA.) So much so that I've pretty much decided that everything I've ever thought about politics is validated by the fact that Spencer Hawes exists and is on the opposite side of the spectrum from me. Seriously, if Spence decides to come out in favor of oxygen and vertebrae, I'm going to have to look into becoming a silicon-based form of life with cartilage instead of a spinal column. That's how dispiriting it is to watch the softest 7-foot center ever, with the knowledge that he's going to get a brain and heart transplant as soon as he puts on someone else's jersey. I loathe, loathe, loathe Spencer Hawes. I'm totally OK with the idea that Evan Turner turned into a worthless head case just from exposure to Hawes.

The coup de grace is how they play. Do you dream of long 2-point shots that the defense is only too happy to concede? How about penetration that doesn't involve actual danger to the defense, offensive rebounding that's sporadic because it involves actual desire, and that can't be counted on any more? They used to try hard on defense, but don't anymore, and honestly, at this point in the NBA's evolution, trying hard on defense and two quarters gets you something to put on your eyes, rather than watch the Sixers.

There are, of course, exceptions, because every NBA team has a couple, just the same as every franchise has hope. Holiday is still just 22 and good, and might be great if he ever got more than one teammate that was worth a damn. Thaddeus Young is coming into his own as a great stretch four, and as the Association continues to change, he's got a chance to eventually become a top 20 kind of player. The team is going to have money to spend with the presumed Bynum departure, and maybe the new ownership can sell Will Smith's partial share into a tolerable free agent signing. The club never wins in the lottery (witness the Turner pick), but a new coach (there's no way that Doug Collins returns after this train wreck) and roster shake up has to make the 2013-14 team more fun to watch than this one.

Because, well, this one is right up there with the Tim Perry club (that would be the post-Barkley trade) and the post-Iverson years in terms of Just End It Already. If you are still watching them, I'm sorry. But I like hoop too much to do it any more. Lose every game to improve your lottery chances, and let us not speak of them again until October. With luck, October 2013.

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