Back in October of 2011, we might not have realized just how huge the sale of the 76ers was. Josh Harris and company came in and bought the team from Comcast on the cheap, and in the three years since, have completely reset our expectations as to what this team is capable of. Years of risk-averse and aimless mediocrity no longer. There's no more obvious example of that than three names of players who have, combined, yet to play a game for the Sixers: Andrew Bynum, Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid.
The Sixers have taken calculated risks on 3 potentially franchise-altering big men in 3 consecutive offseasons. Owners get all the credit.— Michael Levin (@Michael_Levin) June 28, 2014
It's not as black and white as "let's keep trying to win games so fans come to games." It's about building a perennial contender, establishing a real culture here where winning begets winning. I've never been more confident in an organization giving themselves the best shot at winning a championship. Someday soon, the Sixers will be in that short list of contenders.
Meanwhile, you have the Philadelphia Phillies. Seeing as most of us are Phillies fans as well, and fans of our friends over at The Good Phight, the perpendicular way these two teams are run is blatant. In this article from TGP, perfectly titled "Dear Phillies, It's Over", John Stolnis laments the Phillies ownership's reluctance to tear it down. The team's been grasping at shadows of straws for three years now, and it's not getting any better.
Here's Dave Montgomery's quote cited in the article:
"In 1998, what were we drawing? Where were we ranked of the franchises in the city? We were last," Montgomery said. "When I took over, we thought it was a moral victory to go 44-46 in the second half and still lose 97 games, drawing a million and a half and we couldn’t get into a new ballpark."
"Some people say that the Phillies worry too much about attendance. Yes, we do. When you are low in attendance, the risk is only on the upside. When you are (drawing well), the risk is dropping any further. And that’s what we’re trying to avoid."
That's a bald quote basically saying they care more about attendance than they do about giving the team the best chance to win a World Series. Obviously the owners hope the two aren't mutually exclusive, but the way the team and farm system are built at this point, they are.
I'm not going to sit here and say Josh Harris's ownership group doesn't care about the bottom line -- they've already wildly surpassed the price they paid for the team and, reportedly, they like money -- but there's a bigger frame in place here, and the Sixers owners are willing to lose some of the short-term money that could be made by fielding a middling playoff team in favor of what we all want anyway: a legitimate championship contender.
As much Sam Hinkie love as we dish out around here, none of this happens without owners willing to take these risks. The Phillies insistence on holding onto their milk past its Sell By date will continue to doom them with organizational food poisoning going forward. The Sixers are drinking Lactaid and feeling great.