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Markelle Fultz and the Shawshanking of the Process

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NCAA Basketball: Oregon at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

I believe The Process pre-dated Sam Hinkie and actually started with the Andrew Bynum trade of August 2012. I remember how I felt, because I blogged about it. Obviously, we remember how that turned out, but if you don’t, I blogged about it. The Bynum trade — made at a franchise crossroads months after beating an injury-ravaged Bulls team in the first round and nearly upsetting the Celtics in the second -- was the ultimate process over results decision. It’s what started the decimation of a mediocre, low-ceiling team and what ultimately attracted Sam Hinkie to the job.

Nearly five years and just 75 wins later, the Sixers have traded up to get the first overall pick, and will select Markelle Fultz as the third head of the 2-way triumvirate of franchise cornerstones with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. It has been a long, hilarious, depressing, frustrating, embarrassing, trying, but above all, hopeful few years. But whether you stuck around for the Casper Ware Era or not, it was worth it. Because we are here and it is now, and the future is so bright that we’re getting a headache.

For this weekend’s episode of The Rights To Ricky Sanchez, which is a podcast/cult incubator I co-host with Spike Eskin, I dug through the old LB and RTRS archives to find all the pertinent drama we Sixers fans have endured since that sweaty August day when the Process dinosaur egg began to crack. I figured it’d be fitting to return to my blogging roots and lay it out here for ye ol’ comment section to enjoy and attack.

There has been no more dramatic team in sports than the Sixers. From absolute obscurity. A decade of mediocrity and aimlessness. Then finally: the Bynum trade, the knee lube, the Flamenco dancing, the bowling, the hair. Then Hinkie, and the Jrue trade. Not hiring a coach until August. Royce White. Hawes not giving a single fuck. MCW rookie of the year. Embiid injury. Draft him anyway. Dario’s never coming over. Jason Richardson played?! KJ’s mom. MCW trade. KJ trade. Former Sixer Javale McGee. Former Sixer Andrei Kirilenko. Another Embiid injury. Okafor draft. Dario’s still never coming over. Pick Swap trade. Okafor law trouble. Okafor’s dad. Kendall Marshall’s dad. All the fucking Process arguments. The losing streak. League forces Colangelo on us. Ish returns. Elton Brand played?! Barely avoiding the worst record of all time. Hinkie ran out of town. The Hinkie letter. Colangelo hires his kid without any hiring process. Hinkie billboard. Sixers win the Lottery. Draft Ben Simmons. Simmons’s injury. Dario came over! Embiid plays. Embiid nicknames himself The Process. Minutes restrictions. JANUARY. TJ game winner over Porzingis. Embiid gets hurt, they play him anyway, he dominates on national TV, never plays again. Nerlens trade. Okafor’s meniscus. Covington’s meniscus. EVERYBODY’S MENISCUS. THE PICKS SWAPPED. TRADE UP TO ONE. And now we’re here. Days before the 2017 NBA Draft. About 5 years after the Bynum trade. The rebuild has finally ended. We were right. We have the brightest future in sports. We were always right. And it feels good.

That was cathartic.

For more catharsis, read this Ringer piece from John Gonzalez on Retweet Armageddon and the death of The Process and how the Process will never die.

Find the final pre-draft Ricky below (subscribe here). Just one note to the LB community and Process community at large. I’ve been doing this a long time (Liberty Ballers turns 9 in October), and been a suffering Sixers fan for longer than that. You only get one life, and we’ve chosen to spend a lot of it thinking or reading or talking about a basketball team that hasn’t had a winning season in 12 years. But it’s a deep part of who I am as a person, and the community we’ve all cultivated here and on Twitter and at the Lottery Parties has brought me a mountain of joy. I don’t know what it’s like to be a Spurs fan, or a Patriots fan, or a Duke fan. I know what it’s like to root for bad teams. To be bound by love and hatred for our favorite team and the hope that one day, it’s gonna get good. Well, that day has come. And it’s all the more satisfying because of what we’ve suffered through.

Now wipe all the sewer shit off yourselves and enjoy the draft.