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The Sixers, Like Their Mascot, Lack Substance

Local newspaper sports columnists declared Tuesday, February 10th, 2015 "Bash Sam Hinkie Day". Liberty Ballers regrets missing the memo, so here's the site's official dispatch. Hot sports takes inspired by ex-LB roommate Andrew Sharp.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers unveiled a new mascot on Tuesday, a dog named Franklin. The kid-friendly mascot was unveiled, aptly, at the Franklin Institute, and his name and design were determed based off a survey of over 1,000 kids.

It's too bad the Sixers won't think of the children at the upcoming trade deadline.

Among young children of the late nineties, the TV series Franklin was a major hit. The animated series featured Franklin, a talking turtle, and adventures with his friends. Anyone with a son, daughter, brother or sister that age has heard the catchy opening song.

"Here comes Franklin! Coming over to play! Growing a little every day!"

"Here he comes with all his friends!..."

The exact opposite of the Turtle Sam Hinkie, who retreats into his shell and has no friends to speak of.

The Sixers general manager appeared on the broadcast during a 89-84 defeat to the Golden State Warriors, one of the NBA's best teams. He fielded softball questions from Sixers broadcast duo Malik Rose and Marc Zumoff and went on his merry way, talking vaguely about the trading deadline and moves the team might make.

The team would be well off making a deal to improve, as the hapless 12-41 roster is nowhere near a playoff spot in the dreadful Eastern Conference. The conference is weak, however, and a move now might put the team in playoff contention next season. But instead, Hinkie is committed to playing the "slow game" and trading players for more draft picks, for the second consecutive year.

The Sixers don't have many veterans to trade, because most of them are already gone. Gone are the days where Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes led the Sixers nearly all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. Gone are the days where fans packed the Wells Fargo Center for a competitive team. However, with a few moves and free agents signings, those days may return.

Instead, Hinkie will stuff his shell with draft picks and cap space. And losses. He's not interested in improving the team's chances this year.

This is not a tortoise-and-hare situation. This is a turtle, a reclusive turtle, trying to out-slow imaginary tortoises.

In the meantime, the Sixers will point to their new blue mascot and 3D projection system as reasons to watch the games. Never mind the product on the court. Who goes to Sixers games to watch basketball anyway? Instead of promoting the team on the floor, or working to improve the product, the Sixers will trade everything not nailed to the floor and hide behind every distraction that comes the team's way.

But it doesn't have to be this way. The Sixers can improve. They even have an all-star on the roster.

Andrei Kirilenko and his wife welcomed their child on Tuesday, more than a month after the Sixers first traded for the former Nets forward. Kirilenko, a former all-star, should now be available to return and be a huge help to the roster. Unlike most of the roster, he has played good NBA basketball in the past. He would help the team win, which is what a basketball team should do. Another veteran, Jason Richardson, should be able to return from knee surgery right after the all-star break. They would bring the veteran leadership to the young locker room this team desperately needs.

But sources have indicated that Uncle Sam doesn't want Kirilenko to play. He just wants to trade him for another draft pick. And the Sixers only want Richardson around as a pseudo-coach - Hinkie never imagined he'd play a real NBA game.

"Here comes Franklin!" for the general manager to hide behind. "Here comes Franklin!" and don't look at the players on the floor.

Ben Franklin, the Founding Father and namesake of the distracting dog, was fond of saying "a penny saved is a penny earned." The Turtle must be fond of that as well, seeing as the Sixers are below the salary cap so far they need to spend even more money just to meet league standards.

A penny is not earned if you need to spend it anyway. Why not spend it at the deadline on a player who will help the team?

Instead of spending on the roster, the team spent on a mascot. The Sixers mascot may now bark, but the team still has no bite.

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