There's been a lot of hemming and hawing about the 76ers rebuilding path under Sam Hinkie. One of the most frequent critiques is a belief that the Sixers are putting a glorified D-League roster on the court, doing a disservice to themselves and the league as a whole.
Generally, I would disagree with that assertion; the Sixers fight hard and play competitive basketball under Brett Brown. But on a winter night last February, I wasn't even sure they were playing the same sport as their opponent.
The Clippers always figured to be a team that would take advantage of the Sixers' weaknesses. Lob City's boys are famous for their open-court theatrics, and the frequency of live-ball turnovers on Philly's end provides teams like L.A. endless chances to show out.
Chris Paul and Co. were happy to take advantage last season:
That first sequence, sparked by what was supposed to resemble a pass from Michael Carter-Williams, is peak Hinkie's Sixers through the eyes of dissenters. The Clippers amassed 69 -- heh -- points by halftime at Staples Center, and everyone in the building appeared to be in disbelief at what was transpiring, Sixers included.
It was the perfect storm of suck; remaining Collins-era players like Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner were checked out, dead men walking, and the rest of the roster save Thaddeus Young wasn't much to speak of. How fitting that former bloglord and tanking enthusiast No. 1 Michael Levin was there to savor the moment.
Staples Center opting to cancel the game and just air Kiss Cam all night.— Michael Levin (@Michael_Levin) February 10, 2014
Clippers have more field goals (24) than Sixers have points (21).— Michael Levin (@Michael_Levin) February 10, 2014
Perhaps the best summation of the evening was a Levin tweet that could reasonably be from 75 percent of Sixers games over the last year and a half. If not for a time stamp, I'd question its origin.
lolololololol sixers— Michael Levin (@Michael_Levin) February 10, 2014
More than anything else, this loss was hilarious. This season, game-to-game results have led to more concern trolling and shouting about WHAT IT ALL MEANS when the Sixers get blown out by Western Conference Contender X. Because last year's demolition came while the rebuild hadn't yet begun in earnest, we all felt okay letting our hair down to laugh at the wreckage.
I am happy to be free from Spencer's ragged pick-setting and Evan's passionate over-dribbling. I felt no remorse about the faces of mediocrity getting their skulls bashed in, no reason to defend abhorrent lack of skill and basketball aptitude. Despite the facelessness of the players shuttling in and out of Philadelphia these days, they are my guys for better or worse, the manifestation of rebuilding action that I wanted. They are freedom and future and hope in the form of gangly-armed basketball players, and I want the best for them as badly as I wanted Collins and his cronies to get the fuck away from my city's basketball team.
But tonight I just want to laugh, whether it's at the futility of the Sixers or the impossibility that they can play with a Clippers team far superior to their own. If you'd like to join me in appreciation of this tragicomedy, tip is at 10:30.