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It's been nothing but a 7-foot tease, but I can't stop believing.
The day the Sixers traded for Andrew Bynum is the best day of my Sixers fan life. It was equal parts unexpected, ballsy, and perfect. It was the day the franchise would forever change, that Mediocracy would not rule the days ahead but contention and relevance. The fate of my own ambitions were tied with those of this ratcheted-together beautiful work of basketball art-to-be.
Things have not gone according to plan.
Blog friend Spike Eskin ended a long, convincing email to me with these words: "As ugly as all of this has seemed, I think it's even uglier." And he's probably right. He's definitely right.
But I simply cannot believe it. Call it ignorance. Call it naivete. Call me an ostrich. I possess no earthly notion that Andrew will not get healthy and play for the Sixers. This season or next, I am -- for better or worse -- convinced that this will happen.
The big seed of joy is still nesting in my chest and I'm not going to drown it with my tears.
The Bynum trade meant something to us. The owners weren't going to settle for first or second round playoff losses behind a team playing at the height of its ability. It was no longer a team spinning its wheels but one with a goal. A tangible goal that's worth holding onto. I can't release the stranglehold I have on that goal much as I can't defer my certainty that our 25-year-old center will sign a contract here in the offseason and lead us to the promised land when our time comes.
It's irrational. It is naive. But I've committed too much time and too many limbs to this team to let go now. Fandom is the best and worst kind of roller coaster. It's a terrible movie with a great ending. I do it for the ending. I keep telling myself it'll be worth it for the ending. I can't let myself believe we're going to be stuck in Act Two much longer.
There's nothing inherently more rational about this than believing a host of other unlikely events. I just believe it because it's mine. And I'm not the BELIEVE type. I try to stay on this side of pragmatic. I don't listen to Journey.
I don't believe Bynum when he says how he's feeling. I don't believe the team when they put an arbitrary date on the table. I don't believe anybody that said he was damaged goods when they traded for him. I don't believe in knees, at all.
I believe in the Have To. He has to get better. He has to play. They have to get to the next level.
It has to happen. So I believe it will.