Friday, July 12, 2013

Royce White And Philly Fan

Learning About Not Flying
This mostly passed without notice, but the Rockets slid devalued 2012 first round pick Royce White to their old friend Sam Hinkie to get low enough to manage Dwight Howard.

Which led to everyone who knows anything about White (here's the short version: talented power forward with social anxiety disorders that prevented him from playing a minute for Houston last year, with the prime sticking point being a crippling fear of flying) to giggle about how, good lord, what a turrible, turrible place for him to go! Philly Fan's Gonna Be Mean To Him And Stuff!

Well, um, ok, fine. I get it: Philly Fan is Mean Mean Mean, much more so than New York or Boston or Detroit or DC or LA or any other big city where people pay a lot of money to see teams that really don't win enough championships to make the purchase seem wise. But regardless of the unlikelihood of all that, there's this...

The Sixers are going to have a kitten-soft home crowd next year.

There's no Andrew Bynum to antagonize the swells. There is no pretension that the team is going to be anything but a live audition to be on the next good Sixers team, ETA 2015. Everyone who enters the building knows, in advance, that this is going to be a 15 to 25 win team that's going to stockpile lottery balls like mad, and that whoever has the coach's whistle is going to play rooks and noobs regardless of the time and score. They are going to be lucky to draw 10-12K a game, and of that number, there really isn't going to be a dramatic amount of ferocity in booing White.

Now, let's also assume that the plane problem can't be fixed in 2013. How many games can White join his mates? Well, the 41 home games are a given, and if the 2011-12 schedule is any guide, I'm adding at least another 12 to 15 more dates as auto, bus or train friendly. He'd be able to play the road games against the Wiz, Knicks and Nets in the company of his team mates. Games in Boston and Charlotte are more of a stretch, but really not unrealistic, especially if his role on the club is significant enough to merit a driver. Cleveland and Atlanta are a little more arduous, and Amtrak runs to Chicago and Detroit without too much insanity. If you are going to have a NBA player that can't get on a plane, there might not be a better place for him to try to make a contribution than Philadelphia.

There's also this: if White shows even a scintilla of ability and any sense of humor about his situation (dude, just one photo op in the Mr T / B.A. Baracus attire, and I guarantee you that your merch sales will go through the roof, along with a line of commercial endorsements for car services et al)... well, I guarantee you that a portion of the home crowd would mark out for him, big time. The thing about Philadelphia is that we *prefer* athletes with a screw or six loose. Lenny Dykstra was more beloved here than Queens. Darren Daulton wasn't right in the head before the health problems. Dave Hollins was a borderline psychopath. Steve Carlton, Jay Johnstone, Pete Incaviglia, Darryl Dawkins and World Be Free, Ron Hextall, Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson, Manute Bol, Tommy McDonald, Andre Waters, Randall Cunningham, Brian Dawkins... all of these guys, some of them going back before I was born, toyed with the idea that they weren't right in the head, and they were all loved far in excess of their abilities or success.

Guys who know they are stars and carry themselves like it, a la Eric Lindros, Mike Schmidt, Donovan McNabb, Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving... those at the one that we tear apart. They have no fire, no heart, no soul, no whatever. We like our athletes to scrap, and the ones that make it look easy also make it look fake.

So kudos to Sam Hinkie for taking a flyer on the non-flyer. And Royce, seriously, think hard about having Mr. T at your press conference. Play this right, and you'll have your own convoy to follow you to road games...

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