Sometime in the next few days, a series of coin flips* at the NBA offices will break draft ties amongst teams with equal win-loss records. For the Sixers, this means a showdown with Toronto that will likely be more dramatic than any game either have recently played. The winner gets a massive 8 ping pong ball combinations in the draft lottery (of the 1001 possible combinations, 1000 of which are assigned to lottery teams), and the right to pick first if neither team gets lucky and moves up. The loser heads home with a miserable 7 combinations and a bucket of tears.
With the date still unclear and the stakes clearly enormous, here's a list of unforgettable Sixers coin flip memories to tide you over until some local beat writer tweets a link to a buried story on NBA.com announcing this year's results.
Sixers tie with Detroit for the 6th worst record (27-55), and win the flip.
What the losers were left with: Greg Monroe at 7th.
Sixers tie with Chicago for the 16th worst record (41-41) and lose the flip.
What the winners got: James Johnson at 16th.
What the losers were left with: Jrue Holiday at 17th.
Sixers tie with Indiana for the 11th worst record (35-47) and lose the flip.
What the losers were left with: Thaddeus Young at 12th.
Sixers tie with New Orleans / Oklahoma City for the 12th worst record (38-44) and lose the flip.
What the winners got: Hilton Armstrong at 12th.
Sixers tie with Toronto for the 7th worst record (33-49) and lose the flip.
What the winners got: Rafael Araujo at 8th.
What the losers were left with: Andre Iguodala at 9th.
Sixers tie with Indiana for the 20th worst record (48-34) and win the flip.
What the winners got: Boston select Dahntay Jones at 20th (Sixers traded pick for Jerome Moiso in 2001).
Sixers tie with Los Angeles Lakers for the 26th worst record (56-26) and win the flip.
What the winners got: Samuel Dalembert at 26th.
What the losers left with: Vancouver select Jamaal Tinsley at 27th (Lakers traded pick with multiple players for Horace Grant and others in 2000).
Sixers tie with Charlotte Hornets for the 19th worst record (49-33) and lose the flip.
What the winners got: Jamaal Magloire at 19th.
What the losers were left with: Speedy Claxton at 20th.
Sixers tie with Milwaukee for the 16th worst record (28-22) and lose the flip.
What the winners got: Denver select James Posey at 16th (Milwaukee traded pick for Marty Conlon in 1997).
What the losers were left with: Utah select Quincy Lewis at 17th (Sixers traded pick for Nazr Mohammed in 1998).
Sixers tie with Golden State for the 16th worst record (44-38) and win the flip**.
What the winners got: Golden State select Chris Gatling at 16th (Sixers traded pick for Manute Bol in 1990)
What the losers were left with: Victor Alexander at 17th.
The Sixers are 4-6 in draft tie-breaker coin flips in the last quarter century. When still owning their own pick, they're 2-5, compared to 2-1 when having already traded it.
In two wins while keeping their pick, they've netted Turner and Dalembert while the supposed losers have taken Monroe and Tinsley.
In five losses while keeping their pick, they've been left with Jrue, Thad, Thabo, Iguodala, and Speedy Claxton while the supposed winners have taken Johnson, Law, Armstrong, Araujo, and Magloire.
In short, while the Sixers have been slightly unlucky in coin flips, the eventual results of losses have been great. In fact, flip winners are at best 2-5 in those 7 occasions when comparing drafted players (and probably 1-6, depending on how you feel about Jamaal Tinsley).
All of which raises two important questions: is there such thing as tanking a coin flip, and if so would the Sixers do it?
*'Coin flips' aren't necessarily literal coin flips. For one thing, the rules only say that the procedure is chosen at the commissioner's discretion, and for another there's a three-way Rockets/Lakers/Bulls tie that presumably needs more than a coin flip. In any case, it's a safe bet that it'll be a random selection of some kind.
**I'm not actually certain they had the same tie-breaking procedures this far back, but I see nothing to the contrary.