After reading over the two sides of the Jrue Holiday reactions and the comments that followed, there was one thing that irked me a little bit; the "win now" mentality. Don't get me wrong, the goal is to win. However, aren't we setting ourselves up for failure by setting the bar too high? There's that addage that over expectations always lead to disappointment. I think we've all been told at some point in our life that, while its always good to set goals and have high hopes, we need to be realistic.
Progress. It's a simple word but it is also one that has big meaning in my life. I strive to be a better person everyday but as I am far from perfect, I experience failure once and a while. But with each failure, I try to do progressively better for the next time. Even if I failed the next time, if I had made any significant progress from the first failure, I can take solace in the fact that working harder has an effect even if the results are not exactly what I wanted. My personal motif aside, this philosophy resonates in all aspect of life, sports included. Here are the comparisons between the past 3 seasons:
Year Wins Losses Conference Playoffs
06/07 35 47 10th Did not qualify*
07/08 40 42 7th Yes; Lost 1st Round 4-2 to Detroit
08/09 41 41 6th Yes; Lost 1st Round 4-2 to Orlando
*End of Iverson's tenure, 5-18 pre-trade, 30-29 post-trade
Following the Iverson trade, we began a transition into a mid-season rebuilding mode. I initially thought we'd be working towards a Lottery pick at that point (sitting at more than 10 games under .500). Yet somehow the Sixers were able to put together more wins than losses, post-trade. Even though we missed the playoffs, I had something to be optimistic about the next season. At the end of the 07/08 regular season, we sat 2 games below .500 yet thanks to the pitiful East, we were in the playoffs. No one expected us to do anything that season OR the playoffs and the sixers gave a surprise by pushing the Pistons back a little before being ousted. At that point, we had a sucessful season, improving and making the playoffs as a result. Flash forward 1 season and the feelings of success has been interchanged with disappointment.
Lets recap... In one season, we've gone from a team working to get deeper into the playoffs to a team working to desperately win it all as far as the fans and expectations are concerned. Apparently, after 1 year, the window is closing and closing fast! Brand is now a decepit old man, Iguodala has reached his ceiling, and we need to win it now because 2 years from now, it's too late. I know I exaggerate the worries of many but once the suicide hotline was ringing off the hook after Holiday was drafted, is exaggeration out of the question? For some reason, that imaginary bar keeps getting pushed higher for a team that just year ago made the playoffs for the first time since the 04/05 season. It is the Philadelphia atmosphere and media that stems much hype of any major sports team, I realize that. However, its downright preposterous to feel as if the window is closing after 2 years.
The core of the team is young and if we don't win the big one next year or even the year after, it's not the end of the world. Why was this year a "disappointing" season? We didn't make progress. When we made the playoffs a year ago and got eliminated, there was plenty to be optimistic about. We bounced back and we were building. This year when we got ousted, there wasn't as much optimism. Why? No progress was made. We ended the regular season at .500 and didn't get out of the first round again. We are not in the rebuilding mode nor in the 1-piece-away-from-the-championship mode. However, I think we've already made big steps in the off season towards possible championship runs.
We finally have a coach. DiLeo did a good job in the interim position but it was obvious he was not the solution and Cheeks was a poor hire from the start IMO. Holiday may not be our starting PG today, but there's a good chance he will be a top guard in the league and possibly a piece of a championship team down the road. It's been pointed out countless times, Brand is still in his prime (and can bounce back potentially this year being healthy and with a new system). I've been hard on Iguodala but he has grown a lot and he still has room to grow. He's slowly becoming the true leader of this team and the guy you want to have the ball at the end of close games (I couldn't resist).
That damn imaginary bar needs to be pulled down. I know many if not most of you understand and know that this team is getting closer but still not there yet as far as a NBA championship goes. However, the saying "Rome wasn't build in a day" totally applies to those who feel the drafting of Holiday or the neglect of Lawson, Maynor, etc. significantly changes the results in regards to a championship this year. Let's just see if, this time next year, we've made some progress, or just took another step back.