"I'm the worst kind of loser. I'm a loser who doesn't know he's a loser." - Cory Matthews
The 76ers are an embarrassment. Stan Van Gundy said as much at the Sloan Sports Conference in Boston. But you already knew this. While the Sixers embarked on a little journey of self-discovery, which just so happened to coincide with a 26 game losing streak, the pundits and the witch hunters and the sanctimonious shrills turned to their podiums and Twitter accounts and water coolers to denounce the actions at the Wells Fargo Center.
"Bad for the game."
I remember catching SportsCenter one night during the streak. And there it was, on the left hand panel, an upcoming segment devoted to my Sixers. Our Sixers. "Sixers," it read. I know. I didn't believe it either. Our Little Engine That Couldn't on ESPN. I was stunned. My knees buckled. I wobbled a bit. I ran downstairs and threw cold water on my face, slapped myself. Surely it was a mistake. Wake up, Dave. You're sleepwalking again. I ran back upstairs. But there it was: "Sixers."
Did Hinkie sign Tebow to a 10-day contract? Did ESPN think there was an S-I-X-E-R-S in ‘Manziel?'
Judging by the media attention the Sixers received, you would have thought that Hinkie trotted out a couple of ball boys and a puggle each night. That the Sixers had to be the worst sports team ever assembled - even worse than the '73 team or District 5 in the perennially tough Minnesota Pee Wee Hockey League. (In District 5's defense, Adam Banks never should've been a Hawk in the first place). But our Sixers didn't even have the worst record in their conference. That's just a minor footnote that is conveniently glossed over. I, too, sometimes forget that Milwaukee has a professional basketball team. I get it. It's an honest mistake. It's not malicious. But that's why we have NBA standings. To remind ourselves which North American cities have NBA teams.
Everyone turned a blind eye to what happened this year in Milwaukee. It's an outrage - not like the faux outrage over the Sixers season - but a real, legitimate outrage. It's blatant Midwest bias. The Bucks went 15-67. They finished four games behind the Sixers. I concede that there are some cold nights in Wisconsin, but these guys didn't make a jump shot for over five months.
The Ethics of Tanking
The Ethics of Tanking
The season began with Larry Sanders' involvement in a night club brawl. It ended with their owner selling the team. What in the hell happened up there? The only thing missing from this dumpster fire was a Nate Wolters sex tape. Two guys named Marc Lasry and Wes Edens recently purchased the team, which would've been a real savvy move for the franchise if these guys were actually real people.
"Mom, Dad. Can we make an extra setting for Easter dinner? My boyfriend, Wes Edens, is coming over. We met in an AOL chat room. Wes is an underwear model and a neurosurgeon."
For years, both the Sixers and Bucks have been attached at the hip, like two guys fighting for the only girl in the pizza place. The girl in this ABC sitcom-inspired analogy is the #8 seed. There was no way to discern the two franchises. Hell, I went on sabbatical from Liberty Ballers and wrote for the wonderful Bucks site, Brew Hoop, for three years and no one even noticed I was gone. Frank Madden is Mike Levin. And hear me out here ... Mike Levin is Frank Madden. Mind blown, I know.
So this past year, finally, finally, newly-minted GM, Sam Hinkie decided to part ways with our dear confidants from up north. It was a great ten years but you guys can have the #8 seed, Hinkie said through a series of draft day trades and algebra equations. Sixers brass tired of the fighting, the treading of water. And I thought the Sixers were done with that chapter of their lives. I thought they had finally parted ways with the Milwaukee Bucks - that cesspool of a franchise that lulls you into a pit of sleepy 41-41 seasons.
The Bucks were supposed to be average this year. They were trying so hard to be average. Like always, like it has always been. Milwaukee was supposed to battle for the final playoff spot. We'd applaud their grit, politely, and then snicker behind their backs after the inevitable first-round sweep. Like watching someone butcher "My Heart Will Go On" at a grade school talent show. It's the gentlemanly thing to do.
The Bucks couldn't just let us be, though. We've all seen Single White Female. We know the story. The Bucks want to be the Sixers. They want everything we have -- only without the organizational plan -- even if that means going 15-67, four games worse than the Sixers in a year they had no intention of winning. Well, congrats, Milwaukee. You did it again. Another season together. I know my calculus, and, sadly, it's U+ Me = Us.