My apologies for the lateness of this post. It’s been sitting in draft form ever since Franklin Delano Levin began his reign with a dramatic writer expansion project. I figured, with all these writers, and Bynum, I can just watch, read and comment—that’s easy. But now that LB has put 6 of its writers in the hospital for stress-related symptoms—it’s never good for intelligent people to ponder the futile nature of their actions—it’s time for all of us to step up and share the load. Unless, of course, you’d rather discuss the Phillies.
As Washington Sports Club already occupies my monthly "sadly over-ambitious pissing away of money on subscriptions I’ll never use" budget, I did not sign up for Synergy Sports before sitting down to write this season preview. So if you are looking for a detailed breakdown of what players have done in the past, and what they might do together this season, look elsewhere. This is all about silly narrative connecting the season to come with songs that have a tenuous connection to Philadelphia.
The Scott Williams (Worst Case)
Final Record: 38-44, 8th Eastern Conference
Playoffs: Miami defeats Philadelphia, 4-0, Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
The Sixers hold the fort until Andrew Bynum makes his first appearance at home against the Hawks, in front of an abnormally snide, somewhat self-absorbed crowd. Over the next two months, the Sixers break out. Bynum and Hawes make an effective offensive front-court pairing, and the NBA permits Spencer to carry wacky contraptions like marbles, jacks, and an elephant gun to help him defend the 4.
The need to respect the presence in the paint opens things up for J-Rich, Wright, and Swaggy outside, while also creating opportunities for Evan Turner to slash to the basket. The Sixers surge into the All-Star break, and Bynum signs a max-extension.
Then he blows up his knees. Out for the season, possibly part of next…nobody is really sure. The Henson mascot folks pitch Andrew the Albatross in all seriousness.
The remnants of the team collapse in March, but still wind up in the playoffs. Miami (please read in Gary Thorne’s voice) only trails for one minute of the
Stanley Cup Finals series, taking both it, and our pick.
Upon feeling a longing for the BOSS of Easter’s past, there is much crying, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.
Song: The Streets of Philadelphia
God, how I hate this song. I was 15 when they released Philadelphia. Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Philadelphia! Awesome! Then, I found out what it was about. I guess the entertainment powers that be didn’t want New York or Los Angeles based firms to be the face of intolerance. Even when the story is, in fact, based upon events that took place in Manhattan. Better to lay that crap on Philly. But it wasn’t enough just to set it in Philly. God…how I’d love to spill soup on the people responsible for the naming of this film.
Thankfully, a talented playwright, Jonathan Larson, ensured that when people think of 90s, AIDS, and one-word titles, the hub of America's foremost mass transit empire is not impugned.
Anyway, since the movie and its title weren’t enough, Springsteen’s music video paints a post-apocalyptic Philly so grim, Tom Cruise and Sixers owner Will Smith have both signed on for projects.
The Thaddeus Young (Nothing Fits)
Final Record: 35-47, 9th Eastern Conference
I’m not sure what sport ideally suits Thad Young, but after consuming several seasons of Young buckets, I’m fairly certain hoops ain’t it. It’s not that he’s bad at it, he’s not. It just seems like he’d be the Babe Ruth of something else. I threw out Olympic handball in a recent thread. Maybe water polo. I’ve never seen jai alai, but something foreign sounding is probably about right. When I was young, my best friend and I had a game that revolved around a detached remote-controlled truck tire. The game was played while kneeling, with each players serving as a one man striker/goaltender. Thad woulda been great. Whatever it may be, I suspect his best-fitting sport is tragically underfunded in Memphis.
Bynum misses the start of the season, plays just enough to audition for free agency, before a mild 4W4W (forwhoforwhat) strain ends his season. When asked about whether he’ll return, his "I know what it’s like to play for a champion; now I know what it’s like to play here" answer does not instill confidence. A team quasi-built around Bynum (that’s the line they’re going with, right?) just doesn’t work without him. Not an island of misfit toys—that sounds too interesting. More like, the bucket where the pieces from various lego sets get dumped. Basically, imagine last year’s team, but without Iguodala, Brand, or BOSS.
Song: Philadelphia Freedom
This is probably the most well known song to include the word "Philadelphia" that has, as far as I can tell, nothing whatsoever to do with any known version of the actual city. Recorded by Elton John to honor Billie Jean King’s 70s team-tennis team…and let’s just stop right there. Do any of those words say "Philadelphia" to you? Any one of them, let alone all of them together? It’s a perfectly nice song, and they seemingly fell ass backwards into the spirit-of-76-ness that propelled it to greater fame/airplay/sales. So, good for them.
It’s as Philadelphian as Elton John and Billie Jean King.
The Allen Iverson (The Future Is Now)
Final Record: 49-33, 4th Eastern Conference
Playoffs: Philadelphia defeats Atlanta, 4-1, Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Miami defeats Philadelphia, 4-2, East Conference Semifinals
This is just like the worst case scenario, with only one change: Bynum is and remains healthy. After a long trip through a wilderness pockmarked with stupid (and possibly staged) arguments (see Draft: Does the lack of certainty make it pointless?, and Boston: Racist?), finally, hope. Not arrival at a destination, but a feeling that we’ve found the path. Which, of the two, can be the more pleasing. Ultimate achievement carries a trace of mortality. You’ll rarely feel more alive than when you have something to look forward to.
Song: Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now
In a place like Philadelphia, we are all, at most, a step or two removed from one of the city’s grand old institutions. For my family, that institution is Wanamaker’s—or its Ticket Office, at any rate. My grandfather ran it, along with his bride and, occasionally, his children. This was back in the days before ticketmasters, ticket oaks, and what have you. The store chain has changed hands a few times now, I believe, and as I don’t live in the area, I couldn’t tell you the name it currently bears. Nor would I, even if I knew it—unless they intend to write me a check. (BTW, this is already my position on the [INSERT BANK NAME HERE] Center.)
Hollywood, never tiring of crapping on Philly, filmed the movie Mannequin at Wanamaker’s. If you’ve never seen the film, imagine Splash, but with a department store mannequin in place of the mermaid, minus Tom Hanks (good, fun Tom Hanks, not evil "I hate the city you love, and here’s what I’m doing to it to advance my career" Tom Hanks), and plus the bumbling Commandant-wannabe from Police Academy cast as a bumbling security guard. What range! And if you’ve never seen Splash—well, anyone who’s read this far has seen Splash.
After being featured in the film, this song rose to No. 1, garnered an Oscar nomination, and became a permanent fixture in every dentist office in the nation. And as you leave that office, rededicated to brushing a full 3 times a day, combined with regular flossing and rinsing, you look forward to a future cavity-free checkup. Or you decide not to return until the pain of drinking a glass of tepid water knocks you unconscious.
Either way, if this season pans out, we’ll all have something to look forward to next season: 30 LB writers!