Last week started innocently enough in the Basketball Twittersphere, as NBC Sports' Dan Feldman posted an article about Jordan McRae taking the Sixers' required tender offer. That was a standard piece of news someone would expect to see about contract negotiations; however, there was a throwaway bit that Feldman included towards the bottom of the article that didn't sit well with me:
McRae is one of eight Philadelphia players vying for the final three regular-season roster spots. On the bright side, his competition to back up Nik Stauskas at shooting guard isn’t too intense. Hollis Thompson and J.P. Tokoto also have unguaranteed deals.
I don't know much of Feldman's work and he's probably a pretty nice guy. Maybe it's because it was early in the morning and I had just woken up. Maybe I was having a bad day. Maybe I was stressed out from school and life. Whatever it was it, I was NOT having any of this Hollis Thompson slander before I had gotten out of bed. Not today, not ever.
I can understand not wanting to, but u haven't watched a Sixers game in 2 yrs if you think McRae makes it over Hollis pic.twitter.com/JFgPnKy6lQ— Shamus (@shamus_clancy) September 29, 2015
Hollis Thompson made 40.1% of his 450+ 3s over the last two yrs. He's not getting cut for a dude who wasn't good enough for the NBA last yr.— Shamus (@shamus_clancy) September 29, 2015
My daily routine: 1. Wake up 2. Defend one of the Sixers' rotational players 3. Brush my teeth— Shamus (@shamus_clancy) September 29, 2015
Holliswood has sort of become the golden boy amongst those who've consistently watched the Sixers over the last two years as one of the players who's endured through the entirety of the Sam Hinkie and Brett Brown era in Philadelphia. He was the prototypical D-League or UDFA castoff who the team hoped to turn into an NBA player and has since repeated the task with Robert Covington and hopes to do so again and again in order to stack their bench with cheap, skilled role players.
It doesn't come off so well if someone's writing about the Sixers for a national publication and the author isn't aware that Thompson has actually been one of the few solid contributors for the team over the past two seasons. I've been more hyperbolic in my defense of the Sixers franchise before (see: Saric, Dario) or bombastic (the Michael Carter-Williams trade comes to mind), but this illustrates the overall point of how becoming so intertwined with a bad basketball team that has few bright spots can cause riot-inducing rage when those bright spots get shit on.
Fast forward to this week. Paul Flannery and Tom Ziller of the main SB Nation NBA site published an article titled "The Sixers are still not anything like a basketball team".
I want to be nice about this. It's hard to write previews about every single team. These two are obviously are colleagues of Liberty Ballers here at the wonderful SB Nation. I love the work Ziller has done in the FreeDarko basketball books and his daily NBA newsletter with our network. I'd even go as far to say that Flannery is a top-five NBA writer at the moment.
These guys clearly know basketball and good writing, so it's a little disheartening to see them fall into this category of hot takes, as Ziller already calls their 2015-16 campaign "a lost season" amongst other frequently-mentioned topics of hedge-fund management and kicking the can down Interstate 76.
Talk of Nerlens Noel's historic defensive prowess as a rookie, Jahlil Okafor's deftness in the post and his one-handed passing, how these two bigs fit together or even the emergence of Robert Covington could've made fine topics for a introduction to this Sixers season, but, alas, Ziller and Flannery took a different approach.
While I stayed out of this fight, one of my favorite Hinkie Legionnaires wasn't so forgiving:
"ANOTHER LOST SIXERS SEASON!" - Mainstream Media *most of the NBA flails aimlessly in the abyss of mediocrity* *mainstream media applauds*— Michael Levin (@Michael_Levin) October 8, 2015
Maybe I'm an idiot but I guess I don't know what the fuck ISN'T a lost season in the NBA that doesn't include being one of the last 4 teams.— Michael Levin (@Michael_Levin) October 8, 2015
I'm fairly certain that no one wants the Sixers to be bad forever. I think the vast majority of the team's supporters would enjoy the team making a playoff push for the eight seed this year if it's behind the still untapped potential of Okafor, Noel and Nik Stauskas as opposed to, say, the plateaued talent of Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner. It's extremely difficult to jump from 19 wins to 57 wins overnight. A young core of Sixers trying with all of their might to stave off a sweep from the Cavaliers in the first round might, dare I say it, actually be fun!
One day, hopefully, these sizzling opinions will subside, with talk of successful Sixers basketball taking the place of willful ignorance or contrite national narratives and I can watch the offense of my dreams:
Just fast forward my life to the point where the Sixers are running funky Ben Simmons/Hollis/Covington/Saric/Okafor lineups & averaging 110.— Shamus (@shamus_clancy) September 29, 2015