Feeling reflective? You bet! Well, this year didn't lack in excitement for our ill-fated 76ers. Not quite success or philosophical perfection, but a lot of important steps were taken on a number of different fronts that should have Sixers fans looking favorably back on the year of John Cusack, 2012. And that's only slightly dependent on the health of Andrew Bynum and whether or not Kwame Brown picks up his second year option.
For the blog, this year was the most rewarding from start to finish. Despite my sabotaging intentions, I believe we have the best collection of voices on any team-centered blog out there ("little internet friends"). All in 2012, we added Rich Hofmann, Justin F., Kami Mattioli, Brandon Lee, Roy Burton, Mike Baumann, and Dave Rueter, who broke onto the scene with his Remember This Guy series and was awarded the game recaps on all of last season's holiday games that nobody else wanted. So obviously I'm quite looking forward to more great things in 2013 and beyond.
But before we get there, I exploited the staff by asking them a few Sixers/LB questions of the last 365 days. Some of them responded. Roll tape.
FAVORITE SIXERS MOMENT
Justin - "Not only did it mark the first time Tony Battie contributed something meaningful to the team, but for all the talk about how the Sixers were right to package Iguodala for Bynum, it gets forgotten just how good and special a player Andre Iguodala was. A player who was wrongly bemoaned because of a perceived lack of "clutchness" led his team to a huge win against the #1 seed (even if said #1 seed was missing Derrick Rose). Hands down that was the best Sixers moment of 2012 and from a personal stand point, something I will never forget."
Dave - "I flew home for a family party, and my brother and I kept sneaking downstairs to catch a few minutes of the game. The Sixers were down 15 at halftime, but mounted a furious second half comeback. My bro and I then put the game on in the living room - the Rueter women be damned - and we spent the entire 4th quarter giving awkward, white guy high fives to every guest within arm's reach. After the Sixers victory, in a rare moment of arrogance, I boldly told my five year old niece that we couldn't leave Mario Chalmers open in the Eastern Conference Finals."
Baumann - "I watched the second half of this game at McGillin's Ale House in Center City, and I experienced something I hadn't seen in almost a decade--a Sixers team that everyone seemed genuinely excited about. We all felt kind of fortunate to beat a Chicago Bulls team that had been denuded of its best player, but after trading body blows with the Celtics, then pulling away at the end, the Sixers, at least in my mind, turned a corner. I'd watched the Sixers' traditional first-round playoff outs for years after the end of the Iverson era, and even their hot start last year turned out to be too good to be true, but it was during that series against the Celtics--and specifically, that Game 4 win, that I really started to believe that the Sixers could be good again, and soon."
Tanner - "After the win, the stadium was so electric that I had to join in myself. So with my blue v-neck, american flag bandana, and arm raised high (doing shoyaluv, natch), I participated in the "LET'S GO SIXERS!" chants from all the way upstairs until we got in the car."
Roy - "The highlight of the night was when 20,000-plus "fair-weather fans" cheered as Allen Iverson came out to center court before the opening tip. From the awkward hug with Josh Harris to A.I.'s infamous hand-to-the-ear move (something that makes grown men cry to this day) to his dapping up of everyone on the team not named Nikola Vucevic, the whole scene was absolutely letter perfect.
Brandon - "I literally didn't sleep the night the Sixers got Andrew Bynum. I just stayed up watching highlight videos of him (or any video I could find on him) on YouTube and read about him everywhere I could. So, so, so excited for that."
Levin - "I've already written a million words on why it's the most important Sixers move of my lifetime and if I say too much more I'll start bawling, but I can muster up one more insight about how much this meant to me: I haven't actively campaigned for them to sign Greg Oden since. Missing you, GM Intern. If I had a second choice, it would be the Dre free throws. I could cry about that on cue."
Jordan - The Bossiest Moment of 2012 goes to: 'The Boss scored 14 fourth quarter points in all, including 12 of the Sixers' final 14. In the final 3:47 he was 4-5, 2-3 from three and 2-2 from the line. Kobe Bryant, for the record, was 1-7 with two points and a turnover during that stretch.'"
FAVORITE LIBERTY BALLERS POST
Dave - Mike's Friend's with Benefits: The Tony DiLeo Story. Jordan's Mighty Ducks game preview. Brandon's Fantasy Mock Draft. Derek's Building an NBA Champion and the Curse of Conflicting Interests. Sorry, I picked four.
Roy - There were dozens of great posts to choose from, but I have to go with this Sixers/analytic/Moneyball one from Rich Hofmann. This was one of the many things that I read this year that I wish I had written.
Jordan - I would have been content choosing any one of Dave's posts – he's the only writer on the internet who has me LOL'ing every post – but I'll go with this gem from Mike of the fake LB recap template.
Tanner - My favorite time of the year as a member of the staff was going to Vegas so I'll have to pick Dave's recap of our basketball game against ESPN TrueHoop. I still wish we would have done Usher karaoke that night, though.
Levin - Easily Baumann's ballad to Nick Young, basketball, and falling in love. Some of the best blog writing I've ever read. The more verbose and esoteric the better. Still makes my heart soar. Though the most important was probably Jordan's exposé on clutch stats that got picked up by everyone who writes about basketball on the internet.
Justin - The 2012 Sixers In Movie Posters. SWAGDOG MILLIONAIRE!
Brandon - Mike's "What Each Sixer's Role Should Be: On Note Cards!" post is hilarious.
Baumann - Michael Levin's note cards post from October. Shut up, Thad.
MOST VALUABLE LB COMMENTER
Tanner - I love everybody but since we have to choose one, I've got to go with Soman if only because the first thing he said to me when I met him was "so what shoes you got on tonight?".
Baumann - Jake Pavorsky. He's a scrappy little kid from my old stomping grounds whose passion for multiple sports and refusal to filter his own thoughts reminds me of myself at his age. Which not only means that I think we'll all look back and talk about knowing him when he was just a cub, but it also means he's going to have a lot of trouble finding a date to prom. So if you're a high school girl and you're reading this, take pity on young Jake and take him to prom.
Dave - nyunole. Next question.
Brandon - Soman is my rival, so I can't pick him. TwistyWristy is awesome, but he's my number one frenemy. nyunole will probably be picked by Dave, so he's out too. yosoysean beat me in the LB fantasy football league so I'm never talking to him again. Dweeb already knows he'll always have a special place in my heart along with his chicken noodle soup. There's a lot of other great members here that I'm probably leaving out here, but I'm going to have to say jefu. And it's not just because he likes Asian women. I don't know where we'd be without his insightful snark and sarcasm. " RP " forever. Pour one out for LeQuan Glover, splinter27, The_Jruth, LouWilliamsMVP, cr8flow.
Roy - Brandon and I share many of the same favorites (nyuonle, jefu, Dweebowitz, yosoysean), but I'm going with soman319 (Government Name: Sohil Doshi). Not only is he from my hood (Sicklerville), but he wore the timeless "Show Ya Luv" T-shirt to the LB meetup AND I'm almost certain that he still does the "Show Ya Luv" hand signal whenever the Sixers do anything worth a damn.
Jordan - Too many great ones to choose from, but I'll go andyreidswaistline for his phenomenal photoshop work.
Justin - This was a tough one for me. While LLOTEVETS (username of Philadunkia's insufferable Steve Toll) and TrentEdwardsHOF2018 (and his 203 other aliases) were memorable in their own special ways, my honor has to go to Overbrook#22. I know he only made 15 comments on the blog, but the way he announced his presence with such authority before each comment was truly an inspiration to us all. We should all drive to have the self-confidence and self sense of importance Overbrook#22 had.
Levin - I love so many of you (x2 for the ones who came to LB Night @ the WFC) but I can't in good conscience put anyone else but Ricko. He's just so unrelentingly Ricko that he must must must be my favorite and least favorite simultaneously. Somehow he's avoided the banhammer long enough to get his Liberty Ballers Willie Green Gold Card, which means he's unbannable and must be in the starting lineup. I don't know how it happened, I don't know if I've ever agreed with anything he's written, and I can't honestly tell you I read every multiple paragraph comment. But Ricko's carved a tiny hole into my heart where only he can fit in it. He makes me feel something.
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2013
Jordan - "Bynum, obviously, but I was told that's an unacceptable answer. I'll go with winning the lottery, despite 0.5% odds, and drafting Nerlens Noel. You'll thank me later."
Roy - "The next (final?) four months or so of the Nick Young Era here in Philadelphia. He probably won't be with the team next season, so I plan to enjoy each and every swag-filled moment until his name is no longer on the roster."
Dave - "Trotting out an opening night starting line-up of Jrue, Evan Turner, Thad Young, DeMarcus Cousins, and Bynum."
Levin - "Knees. Knees as far as the eye can see. The streets paved with knees. A place where the knees flow like wine. Cherry Hill Kneesan, the friendly Kneesan Giant. And a really tall person named Andrew re-signing for a long time with the Sixers."
Baumann - "Nick Young's next absurd hot streak to ice a game in the 4th quarter. Assuming that comes in the next year--we might have to wait a while."
Tanner - "I'm just praying to see Andrew Bynum play a significant role in a Sixer uniform. Nothing will make me happier than to hear Marc Zumoff come up with a phrase dedicated to Bynum. Something like "Swat Lunch, By-num-num-num-num-num-num". And the quarterly "Remember This Guy" posts. Always the "Remember This Guy" posts."
Justin - "The future of Dorell Wright. His contract expires at the end of this season, and I am interested to see what the Sixers do with him as he can be a very valuable contributor on a potential Jrue/Drew led Sixers team."
Brandon - "Again, obvious thing would be Bynum. The Sixers are in basketball purgatory right now without him and we can't reach the gates of basketball heaven until he comes back. Aside from that? Hoping Spencer Hawes gets traded so I never have to watch him play basketball for the Sixers again."
Time's yours, people. Use this to gripe about LB or make suggestions or challenge one or all of us to Egyptian Rat Screw or whatever. Sit back, reflect, and enjoy the smell from the grill, it sparks up nostalgia.
Here's to many more years of being little internet friends and maybe even a few good Sixers years sprinkled in. Have an amazing New Year's Eve/Day and a healthy, fulfilling 2013. I appreciate you all so very very much.