In their open letter to fans announcing their purchase of the Sixers, managing owner Josh Harris and CEO Adam Aron expressed their humility at purchasing the franchise with the "third most wins and third most playoff appearces[.]" This "Third Most Wins" boast reappeared during the season on video screens throughout the Wells Fargo Center. It is an artful boast, kindling memories of rivalries-past with Boston and LA. The unscrupulous eye might interpret the post to mean third most successful, a statement that, if made directly, would be false, at least if you consider winning percentage and championships as better indicators of success than raw win totals. Anyone taking Don "the beer can" Nelson over the Zen Master?
Still, "Third Most Wins" looks impressive, and might be to those forming first impression of the Sixers. We have a word for these people: children. And with all the focus on confetti and fast food, it is a market segment the Sixers are successfully courting, mascot or no.
But what do the Sixers have for grown up fans? No, not guys night out packs with cheerleader calendars. Grown up fans who want to watch a contender. Not a has been full of never gonna bes. A real contender. I’m sick of the fluff. I don’t want someone to miturate down my back and tell me it’s rainin’. The fluff wasn’t aimed at me, and it wasn’t aimed at you, but we are the ones consuming this basketball flavored substance, so we’re the ones who keep eating it. Enough with the "Third Most Wins", enough confetti, enough tweets. Spare me the damn spoonful of sugar. At this point, it you’re still a fan of this club, you’ve learned to take your medicine straight.
We all know what that medicine is. If the owners weren’t aware before they bought the team, Jordan Sams
Michael Levin stuffed it into to their suggestion box right quick.
But Aron seemed to answer
Levin on Spike Eskin’s show. So it now seems fair to ask, does "Third Most Wins" reflect ownership’s goal for a standard the Sixers can and should aspire to fulfill, or is it a palliative to help us digest what they are?
Which, over the last quarter century, is just slightly above worthless. Forget Boston and LA, the post-Doc Sixers mingle with the Hawks and Nets. Or the Bucks and Raptors. Based on my half-assed, angry afternoon rankings, these Sixers are the tenth best franchise over the last quarter century. In the conference, not the League. Put that on your damn video board.
Relevance is subjective, but we can probably all agree it revolves around contention. That means deep playoff runs, with a title or two. Or, at the very least, hope. Which requires making it past the opening round. Here’s my half assed, angry rankings points table: 250 points for each title, 100 to the runner up, 50 for conference runner up, and 20 if you fell in the conference semis. 20 additional points if you were fodder for the champ in the second or third round (being on someone else’s championship DVD is relevant, right?). 10 points if you lost in the second round to the team that ultimately fell in the Finals. Taking a series to the max seems relevant to me, so 10 points for winning a game 7, and 5 to the valiant loser. Each time swept is a 20 point deduction. I’m ignoring the first round of the playoffs, ranking only the East, and giving the combined "accomplishments" of the Bobcats and Hornets a single score (which is easy, because the Bobcats score is zero—they’ve never won a playoff series.) Based on these half-assed, angry Saturday rankings, over the last quarter century (since Doc retired), the East divides into even thirds: (1) the relevant, (2) the middling, and (3) the worthless, with our Sixers falling in line as the worst of the middling. Sounds about right, doesn’t it?
The Relevant (Warning: Includes Knicks)
1. Chicago 1800
2. Detroit 1260
3. Boston 590
4. New York 560
5. Miami 520
Eleven titles in seventeen finals appearances. Each with multiple appearances in the Finals, and each having battled in no less than three Game Sevens (not including whatever happened in their first rounds, remember). The Knicks are the lone entry without a ring, but from ’89 to 2000, they advanced past the first round every season but one (1991), played in seven game sevens (including all three series in ’94), and served as champion fodder 6 times. If you measure from Y2K, the Knicks are worthless, but from ’88? Relevant.
The Middling: Do I dare to eat a peach?
6. Indiana 425
7. Cleveland 320
8. Orlando 310
9. New Jersey 295
10. 76ers 230
Mediocrity. You know how to spell it. Any surprises here? Each made the Finals at least once, none brought home the hardware. The Pacers rule here, since they lost in the Eastern Finals five times, and played in four Game Sevens (dropping three). So good on them for that. None of those Game Sevens were in the Finals—as none of these teams ever pushed the Finals to a seventh game. In other words, none of these teams took the court with the chance to win a ring. Heartening.
Our Sixers, as if you didn’t know, made it past the second round only once—the 2001 Finals run featuring their only Game Sevens (both victories, but you knew that). That’s it. Five other appearances in the second round, with none of those series going the distance. While we’ve appeared on only 2 DVD’s , they were DVD’s for fantastic teams: the ’91 Bulls, and the ’01 Lakers. The Sixers handed the ’91 Bulls one of their two playoff defeats, and the ’01 Lakers their only one. On the other hand, each of the other four middling squads can at least boast of having multiple trips past the second round. The only two franchises to reach one, and only one Eastern Conference Final since 1988? The Sixers and the Bucks. Who’d they play again?
But hey, at least we’re better than….
The Worthless:Abandon hope all ye who enter here
11. Atlanta 135
12. Char-o-lina 115
13. Milwaukee 85
14. Toronto 35
15. Washington 0
If a renegade group of NBA owners ever splintered off to form a Premier League, these five squads ain’t getting an eVite. ZERO trips the finals, and one conference final run from these five sorry sacks, combined.
Can it with "Third Most Wins" and the rest of the kiddy crap. Give the little ones a mascot, t-shirts, and ice cream. They’ll be fine. The only place the Sixers come in third is in ratings when they go head to head with the Phillies and Flyers.
Time to grow up, get real, and get to work.
Edited to remove one improper reference to Michael Levin, and one psuedo-extraneous one. Some typos corrected, making those that remain more glaring.