The current atmosphere around the Philadelphia 76ers is...tricky. On one hand, a third star has been hunted and the Sixers officially have a Big Three. On the other hand, the Markelle Fultz situation has left Sixers fans familiarly confused, and fights have broken out across Sixers Twitter.
BUT TODAY IS THANKSGIVING.
It’s time to put aside our differences and come together to talk about what we’re thankful for in our lives. Liberty Ballers rounded up the writers, some former staff members, and various Sixers Twitter personalities and asked them a Sixers-centric version of...
“What are you thankful for?”
Jim Adair @JimAdair3
It might sound weird to some, though likely not to anyone reading this, but there is truly a lot to be thankful for during the Sixers’ down years. There was the night I took an ex-girlfriend to the game and told her Brandon Davies sucked, and he immediately dropped 18 on 7 for 9 shooting (the relationship did last longer than Davies’ NBA career). There was, of course, the time when I took an Uber to the airport with Shamus Clancy to welcome Dario Saric, which confused the driver since neither of us had bags. And there were the multiple times K.J. McDaniels brought me the utmost joy by swatting Greivis Vasquez’s shot into oblivion. But I want to talk about Scottie Wilbekin. Yes, you heard me right.
I was at a preseason game in October of 2015, sitting in a box while Sixers ticket reps tried to sell me on a group night. Knowing my weaknesses in advance, we just so happened to be sitting in the box next to Sam Hinkie and a boot-footed Joel Embiid eating celery and carrots off a Styrofoam plate (photo below). It was an early October game against the Cavs. None of it mattered. But at that time, there was a lot you could do in the Summer League or preseason for the Sixers (or any other team) and catch Hinkie’s eye.
So there was Scottie Wilbekin, making the most out of his 3 minutes played (+10) with a rebound, two assists, and a single bucket. That bucket? A game winning three with 0.3 seconds left:
There were very few people in attendance. No one cared. It didn’t matter. Wilbekin would be off playing alongside Furkan Aldemir for David Blatt by the time Ben Simmons suited up in his worn number 25. But that shot is something that we won’t see in this era of Sixers basketball: A player, just hoping to make some kind of a mark, burying their one and only shot attempt in a game where few people attended, fewer people stayed to witness the shot, and the only player on the floor left standing for either team just three years later would be T.J. McConnell.
It wasn’t a game that mattered. It wasn’t a shot that mattered. But for Wilbekin, it was his ONE shot. And boy he nailed it.
Shamus Clancy @Shamus_Clancy
January 18, 2017: The Day the Switch Flipped
From the time Sam Hinkie took over as the team’s general manager, the Sixers had only been theoretically good, as fans dreamed of fake future lineups filled with young stars while the on-court product was still filled with guys who weren’t good enough to play for the Columbus Riverdragons. The Sixers’ home contest against the Raptors on January 18, 2017 felt like the first time they were literally good though, not just good in the minds of local bloggers. The Raptors were 15 games above .500 going into that night’s matchup at The Center. They were as legit as a non-LeBron team could’ve been in the Eastern Conference.
After years of getting smoked in games like this, the switch flipped for the organization. They won. Joel Embiid felt like Shaquille O’Neal reincarnated. Dario Šarić and Robert Covington played their respective roles well enough that you could easily envision them being playoff heroes someday. Šarić had two back-to-back blocks against Toronto that warranted a nice smack on the ass from Embiid, who came running onto the court after the next stoppage in play. Covington played rock solid defense against the Raps’ potent perimeter. Embiid’s 26 points and nine rebounds felt like a monster performance then. That would be a slightly underwhelming outing now. Covington and Šarić got shipped to Minnesota less than two weeks ago. Times change.
Šarić and Covington are no longer here, but the jumps they both took over the last two seasons led to them being a worthy return for star wing Jimmy Butler. Embiid became the player Sixers fans dreamed of him being and so much more. We’ve reached the corner. I felt the franchise was turning that night 22 months ago.
Kevin Rice @TheKevinRice
I’m thankful for a game in late January of 2016. Perhaps one of the most “promising” Sixers starting lineups of the year took the floor against what would end up being the greatest regular season team of all-time in the Golden State Warriors. Ishmael Larry Smith, Nik Stauskas, Robert Covington, Jerami Grant, and Nerlens Noel plodded onto the floor in what was certain to be a damn massacre. But it was the Warriors, the game was sold out, and people were sure to be glued to their TVs.
I didn’t get to watch this game.
As a senior in high school, I was working a Saturday 11-8 lunch and dinner shift at a retirement community in Doylestown, PA (s/o Pine Run Retirement Community). For some reason the game started at 5pm and that meant I would be spared from witnessing the slaughter.
At about 7 o’clock, I was able to check the score and saw that..we weren’t getting killed. I scurried into the back of the kitchen and called a couple of cooks around me to stream the very end of one of the biggest upsets in NBA history. When the stream loaded, the very first thing we heard was a whistle, as a shot had been heaved from in front of the Warriors bench. Isaiah Canaan, who was 5-9 from distance that game had just brought the Sixers to within two points of the fucking Warriors with an improbable 4-point play. The next play is something that I’ll never forget for as long as I live. The play. The call. The reaction. Everything was perfect.
A poor pass from Steph Curry allowed Canaan to get a good chunk of the ball and it pinballed around the legs of Curry, Klay Thompson, Canaan, and Ish Smith. Somehow the ball ended up in Smith’s hands with daylight in front of him. As the five-foot-twelve point guard rose up and punch-dunked the game-tying bucket home, a state of euphoria had erupted in the kitchen of a retirement home dining hall.
It didn’t matter that the Warriors then perfectly executed a play to win the game. It didn’t matter at all. The 2015-16 Philadelphia 76ers ALMOST beat the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors. In an era in which we needed to lose as much as possible, that loss in particular felt like the biggest win of the season, and I’ll always be thankful for it.
George Kondoleon @georgythegreek
I’m thankful for Andre Iguodala this Thanksgiving. I’ve had time to reflect on why I got into Sixers basketball, and I realized that while Allen Iverson sparked the love for this generation’s Sixers fanaticism, it was Iguodala who carried the organization after Iverson left. He wasn’t one of the megastars Philly yearned for, but he ran through walls in an attempt to push the Sixers further. The pinnacle of his Sixers career came in the 2012 NBA playoffs. Taking down the injury-riddled Bulls, Iguodala stood on the announcer’s table after hitting two game-sealing free throws. The image is safely ingrained into Sixers basketball history, because of the context of it all. Taking down the powerhouse Bulls, Iguodala finally getting his big moment and flexing his chest, then them almost beating Boston’s Big 3. The Iguodala era wasn’t championship promising. It wasn’t what this current era could potentially be. But it’s what we had. It gave us heartbreak, it gave us bright moments, it gave us a true Philly sports experience. The bridge between Allen Iverson and the current big three was Andre Iguodala, and he held his own. It’s time to truly appreciate it as his career winds down.
Dave Early @behindcurve
Like I’ve heard Spike Eskin say, I grew up a Knicks fan. My first games were with my dad at MSG watching Patrick Ewing, always my favorite player as a kid. When I finished college, I moved to Philly and wrote stuff whenever I could for Philadelphia Magazine. It was through covering a broadcasting class Marc Zumoff taught that I got to interview the legend, and he convinced me to take his class. It was so fun and helpful and I got the chance to learn from “Zu,” as I heard a few of his buddies call him.
Because of that experience, and living in Philly, I began rooting for the team from afar. And slowly, over time, rooting for a team and owner who didn’t seem to have the fans’ best interest in mind, like the Knicks, began to bother me. Why would I promise my undying loyalty to someone who doesn’t care what I want? And then Sam Hinkie happened. And he appeared to do what I had always wanted the Knicks to do after the Ewing years, which is: absolutely whatever it takes to win a championship...even if the media or half the fan base hates it. Even if it costs the owners or the league money for a few years. Hinkie didn’t have to get it perfect, but he had to try the smartest things to win me over. And I fell in love and never looked back. I tell my Knicks fan buddies who make fun of me I didn’t “bandwagon,” but I “tankwagoned,” because it wasn’t a winner who stole my heart. It was a team who couldn’t even compete! But they were so fun. We all understood what they were doing. The average ticket was like $11 dollars on Broad Street, unlike MSG who charged 20x that no matter how bad the team was or how bleak the future looked.
I got to listen to Zu’s passion for hoops throughout it all. They were undertaking a process I could truly believe in. They cared about our goal as fans. We don’t want 30 or 40 wins or veteran mentors. We don’t want to avoid public scrutiny or to sell tickets when we stink. We want a dynasty! I’m thankful for Marc Zumoff and Sam Hinkie for their hard work and sharing as much of their method as they have. Because of them I cheer for a winner now who (mostly) did it for us fans. Thanks!
Dennis Grove @GipperGrove
I am thankful for Terry Rocap, Joe Sherwood and Randy Childress, aka the members of Fresh Aire. Together, they created the best team anthem of all time. I remember like it was yesterday: lounging in my college dorm, searching the internet for some sort of old Sixers content worth sharing with my friends. They were very negative about the team, and I needed to show them something fun they could get behind when the Sixers win. I came across a video titled “1 2 3 4 5 SIXERS! Philadelphia 76ers Oldschool Anthem” uploaded by Megan Adamson-Jackes. Megan, if you’re reading this, thank you. With each win, I’d run and grab my laptop and plug it into some speakers, turning them up full volume. That white Converse shoe started tapping and all was right with the world. It took a few wins and a few YouTube views to get everyone going, but by the time Iggy hit those two clutch free throws during the 2012 NBA Playoffs, everyone was standing on top of their seat and clapping along, singing word for word. Fortunately, we weren’t the only ones listening to this song. A special thank you goes out to the Sixers organization for recognizing this slapper and incorporating it into the game presentation. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to play it 1,000 times. Fresh Aire, please hit my DMs.
Jeff McDevitt @JeffMcDev
You know what process-era thing I’m thankful for? That damn mascot search back in 2012. ESPECIALLY the breakout star of those three proposed mascots, MY GUY Phil E. Moose.
After that owner who loved to shower everyone in entirely too much confetti did away with that robot mutant freak rabbit Hip Hop after the 2011 season, who Scott O’Neil said was “dead and buried,” the team proposed three new mascot choices during the lockout-shortened 2012 season.
Here’s the lineup of the three possible mascots:
- Big Ben - a sort of modern, mulleted take on Ben Franklin with a Jay Leno chin, who was still SORT OF sexy.
- B. Franklin Dogg - a little redundant of a name when we already have a Big Ben as option 1, no? Either, way, this is straight up just Scruff McGruff with a liberty bell hat on.
- Phil E. Moose - LOOK AT THOSE ANTLERS. This is a MOOSE with a sweet ass Sixers robe. He’s having a good time. He WANTS to party.
After these three proposals were announced, the Daily News ran a back cover that said “fans agree, Sixers’ mascot proposals are lame” and I couldn’t disagree more. If the Sixers had Phil E. Moose as their mascot, and not the dastardly coward Franklin the Dog, they’d have a ring by now. That’s just a fact.
The Phil E. Moose legend grew even more as one entrepreneurial soul decided to start up a Twitter to star the movement, er, #MooseMent, for Phil E. Moose. It was some perfect early Twitter shit where they’d just say crap like IT’S FRIDAY AND THE MOOSE IS LOOSE and people would lose their damn minds! He’d say crap like HOOVES UP and The Moose is LOOSE, and HOOFS TO THE ROOF. He even chose LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” as his official theme song! He liked Primo Hoagies! One of us! If you’re a moose, I’m a moose!
Everything about this Twitter account harkens back to a time when Twitter was fun again. No one was arguing about Markelle Fultz’s shoulder. The quote retweet feature didn’t exist. The timeline was still in the correct damn order. The Sixers sucked. Mark Magowan bought a whole row of tickets for like a quarter. It was awesome.
The guy who started this Phil E. Moose account even got hired by the Sixers (don’t quote me on that, I saw an article, no I didn’t copy it and i x-ed out of the link so just trust me here). He probably parlayed that job into some low-to-mid-six-figure job now that’s some fake position like “multilevel digital strategist” where he just goes to a personal trainer every morning and has GREAT calves. Just like the best calves.
So thanks for the memories, Phil E. Moose. I will never not chuckle when someone retweets one of your tweets into my timeline, and we are forever grateful that this mascot search ever happened.
P.S. - THEY NEVER EVEN CHOSE ANY OF THE PROPOSED MASCOTS AND DIDN’T HAVE A MASCOT FOR LIKE THREE MORE YEARS AFTER THIS SO WHAT WAS THE POINT? WE WANT THE MOOSE.
Going to get some ice cream from WaWa...— Phil E. Moose (@PhilEMoose) December 8, 2011
Tom West @TomWestNBA
When the Sixers made the trade for Jimmy Butler, it was the right move. There was no question about it. Two starters, salary filler in Jerryd Bayless, and a second-round pick for a top-10 player? You don’t hesitate. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t mixed emotions when such a trade happens.
Thanks to the Butler trade, The Process Sixers may have completed the core that could lead them to a championship one day. And with it, one of the players essential in elevating The Process over the last two seasons -- who did come over and turned himself into top-10-player-trade material -- is gone.
Some Sixers fans were frustrated with Saric’s slump to start this season, and understandably so. Unfortunately, he didn’t go out at his best. But when looking back, it’s hard to feel anything but love for everything Saric brought to Philadelphia. The hustle, the quarterback outlet passes, the celebrations, the leap he made in his second year. Saric worked hard and improved in all areas through his short time with the Sixers, and Butler may not be on the team without him.
When we look back at these Sixers in years to come, focusing on Simmons, Embiid, the endless weirdness surrounding Fultz, and now whatever happens in the Jimmy Butler era, Dario Saric should always be remembered fondly. He was essential in driving the transition from hopeful tankers, to playoff contenders, to potential Finals contenders. And if that’s not something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, I don’t know what is.
Addison Hunsicker @AddHunsicker11
I wasn’t old enough to remember the 2000-01 Sixers team that somehow made the NBA Finals thanks to Allen Iverson carrying a bunch of role players (shout out to the future head coach of your Temple Owls, Aaron McKie). Each Sixers season was a blur to me as a kid. I don’t really remember many of the games until Iverson’s final days when Kyle Korver was coming off the bench casually dropping 21 points.
My dad got tickets for game three of the Bulls series in 2012, and it was one of the wildest basketball games I’ve ever seen in person. People were booing Joakim Noah for absolutely no reason, Brian Scalabrine was throwing down reverse dunks in pregame warm-ups, and I had my “Passionate. Intense. Proud.” rally towel READY TO GO. How the hell did that Sixers team erase a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win? I HAVE NO IDEA BUT IT HAPPENED. It was the first, cues Marc Zumoff voice, “YEEEESSSSS” moment I had watching the Sixers. It made me really want the team to one day be on a 2007-2011 Phillies’ level.
When I got home from Legion baseball practice while the series clincher was going on, I immediately showered, put the game on in my room, and didn’t move until the clock hit zero and the eight seed slop that was the Philadelphia 76ers finished off the series. And when I say I didn’t move, I didn’t move. I got out of the shower and sat in front of the TV until the game was over. No clothes. I was that glued to a Sixers team that had Spencer Hawes and LaVoy Allen as key interior defenders!!
Of course, I had to miss game seven of the Celtics series because of a friggin’ Legion game that was supposed to be played during the day but got pushed back because of rain. Screw rain! I was pissed. I barely played in the game and followed along in the dugout on my dad’s phone (had no respect for the no phones in the dugout rule). That month during the playoff run, I had the Sixers Old School Anthem on repeat on the way home from school. It was awesome. I love those guys (except Evan Turner). And because of them (and Hinkie), we now have Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Jimmy Butler. What a world.
Zainab Javed @zrjaved
I’m so grateful for the Sixers and the fandom around it. I work in a pretty stressful industry and it cracked my self-confidence, so being able to throw my emotions into a Sixers team with larger-than-life personalities and ridiculous storylines was a raft that’s kept me afloat. Every player — Joel, Cov, really definitely Cov — brought me so much joy. And even better, everyone I’ve met because of the Rights to Ricky Sanchez podcast has been so supportive and kind to a new kid like me who really needed that confidence boost. I spent the first half of the year just dm-ing all y’all’s funny tweets to friends who didn’t Get It — so I’m pretty thankful for the opportunity to be a part of it.
Tyler Monahan @TMon_19
For as much of a love/hate relationship Elton Brand has had with the city of Philadelphia throughout his playing career, I am thankful for him this Thanksgiving. Brand was brought in as a huge free agent signing before the 2008 season. Just turning ten years old, I had no idea who he was, but I knew that the fan base was buzzing because of his commitment. Because of injuries and growing age, Brand never really lived up to his big contract, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. What I’ve always respected about Brand was his hard work and hustle, and now he gets to show that off in his role as general manager. The hire was questioned by seemingly everyone when it was first announced, but he has done a great job learning on the fly and proving he is willing to do whatever it takes to bring a championship back to Philadelphia. He may not have been the superstar we were expecting to have during his playing days, but Old School Chevy just might change that now that he has a role off the court. The never stop working attitude Elton Brand has both on and off the court is something that all fans can easily get behind. You don’t want to forget that Philadelphia finally has a general manager that wears a normal sized collar, and for that I am thankful.
Justin Carter @juscarts
I grew up — and let’s be honest, still primarily am even though I’m writing for Liberty Ballers — a Rockets fan, and there was one Rockets season where some random guy named Robert Covington was on the team in the preseason. I watched that guy and thought wow, he looks like he could be a good player for this team, so of course Houston did something bad like keep Kostas Papanikolaou over him. But Covington ended up as part of the Process Era in Philadelphia, where a former Rockets executive named Sam Hinkie was #DoingThings. Even though the two teams didn’t make that many deals, it felt like there was a relationship between the two. When Houston got K.J. McDaniels from Philly, I thought it was one of those “you gave us RoCo, so here is a promising young guy” things, even though it ultimately wasn’t. The end of the Hinkie days felt like the end between some mutually beneficial treaty between governments, but I’d also become invested enough in Hinkie to keep enjoying 76ers basketball. I even survived the RoCo trade!
Alonzo Jones @Tweets_by_Zo
2016 Draft Lottery. The Ben Simmons draft. Boston Three, Lakers Two and There it was, Sixers number one. I was at the RTRS (Rights To Ricky Sanchez Podcast) Lottery Party and man, it was just a feeling I’ll never be able to give a proper explanation of. All I can think of is Vindication. The laughing stock, the joke of literally all of sports, getting it’s just due. By no means was it this franchise’s proudest moment, but it just meant more to US, the folks who talked/tweeted through the Eddie Jordan’s and the 10-72 seasons and everything in between. So when someone says “we don’t deserve ...” in regards to the Sixers, it’s ok to remind them that actually, we do. We’ve been through it all and are still going through it. So we do deserve the best center in the NBA, a top-15 All-Star, a 6’10” point guard, a coach with a storied lineage from one of the greatest dynasties in sports, you’re damn right we do.
So I guess my answer is a combo. I’m thankful for Sam Hinkie and his brand of Kool-Aid if you will, but even more so for the amazing group of people I’ve met along the way during this Process. I’ll never take for granted what this team means to me. The RTRS’s and The Liberty Ballers of the world who continue to fight the good fight. Thank You, #TTP.
Andrew Patton, Liberty Ballers
I distinctly remember after Game 1 of the 2001 Finals truly believing that the Sixers would not only win the series, but do so emphatically. My 13-year-old brain didn’t quite understand how unsustainable the AI show would be against Shaq and Kobe. The loss made me love the team more though, and certainly did that for Iverson. Him throwing himself into the teeth of the defense with reckless abandon made it impossible not to pull for him, even on nights when it wasn’t working. I know he wasn’t the most efficient, I know he shot the Sixers out of games, I know he was sometimes a handful in the locker room, but I didn’t care then and still don’t care now. He played with the effort and toughness I wish I had. Iverson left an indelible mark on the franchise and the City and seeing him courtside this season cheering the team on like any other maniac makes it even better.
Mike Chiodo @mhc_76
On October 30, 2013, the Sixers began their first season of the Process era. They were expected to be the worst team in the NBA. Many analysts believed that they’d struggle to get to double digit wins. And they were beginning the season against the Miami Heat, who were coming off back-to-back titles. It was expected to be a blowout which would kick off a long, losing season. However, that is not what happened.
The Sixers, inexplicably, scored the first 19 points of the game. They would lead by as much as 22 in the first quarter. Obviously, that lead did not last. The Heat would outscore the Sixers by 17 in the second quarter, and the Sixers would take a meager 51-49 lead into halftime despite opening the game on a 26-4 run. The Heat would dominate the third quarter as well, and they took a 94-85 lead into the fourth. The start was fun, but it appeared the Sixers were headed for a 20-point loss, as everyone expected.
And then, Michael Carter-Williams happened. MCW ran the offense to perfection in the fourth, sparking a Sixers rally which gave them the lead late in the game. And then, it happened. With under a minute left in the game, the Heat trailed 109-108. LeBron James decided to iso Evan Turner. He got a step on him…and as he drove to the basket, Michael Carter-Williams stripped him. A few minutes later, the Sixers clinched one of the most shocking wins in Process history. MCW began his ROY campaign with a 22/12/7/9 line. Evan Turner out-dueled LeBron James. It was the very beginning, but it was peak Process.
A couple wins over the Wizards and Bulls later, and the Sixers were 3-0. The NBA world collapsed on itself. It led to takes like, “Do the Sixers even need to tank?” and “What if MCW is the superstar?”. People argued that the Sixers already had their “Big 3” in Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, and Thaddeus Young, with a rising star in MCW. Why tank? Of course, the Sixers would lose 63 of their next 79 games and finish with the second worst record in the league. In the 2014 draft, they would select Joel Embiid. While things eventually went according to plan in 2013-14, we will always have those first three games, and the craziness of the takes.
Emily Anderson @third_and_girl
Most millennial answer ever...When it comes to the Sixers, I’m thankful for Instagram. While it may seem to be a “Millennials are ruining then earth” answer, I can’t think of a platform that provides as much insight into who these players that we love are as people. How excited do you get when Joel Embiid posts a picture or story after a dominating game? What’s the location going to be, what’s the caption? Where else can you find Embiid trolling Andre Drummond with videos (besides Twitter when everyone reposts it - but I’m talking about source material). In addition to the players’ content themselves, we’ve got an amazing team photographer, Alex Subers, who fills my feed with amazing Sixers photos. That iconic Embiid/T.J. McConnell choking picture, that was Alex. Want an easy place to see all of the Rocky re-enactment shots for the City Editions, check his feed. We love these players for what they do on the court, and I’m thankful that Instagram gives us a peek at who they are off of it.
Brian Murphy @Bri__Man
On Tuesday of this week, Elton Brand and Brett Brown each addressed reporters after news broke that Markelle Fultz, as advised by his *attorney* Raymond Brothers, would be ceasing all basketball activity until he sees a shoulder specialist on Monday. This has legitimate basketball and career implications for the 76ers and Markelle Fultz, yet my biggest takeaway from Brown’s media availability came from something completely unrelated to Fultz.
Brett Brown, in his beautiful New England-Australian hybrid of an accent, referred to the last round of the Western Conference Playoffs, as “The Western Conference Championship”. Minor details sure, but I’ve been an NBA fan my entire life, and I’ve literally never heard someone call the Conference Finals anything but that. It was especially shocking to hear from a man who coached in that round of the playoffs six times with the Spurs, back in the days when they put the Conference Finals logo on the court!
As a basketball tactician, I think Brett Brown is wildly underrated. He has a deep playbook full of wrinkles and counter options to keep a defense off guard and he finds extremely creative ways to employ his non-traditional stars. To me, though, Brett’s greatest trait is that of a motivator.
Is “Load up, brotha” the new “Ring the bell, brotha”?????!!????? pic.twitter.com/cWkME8wcQ5— Charkelle (@SnowmanEmbiid) October 19, 2018
The idea of Brett Brown telling me to “Load up, brotha” or “Brian Murphy, come ring this bell brotha” has me ready to run through a wall. With all the weirdness surrounding this team, as long as we have Brett, I will feel confident we can navigate through the stormy sea. Brett Brown, come ring this bell, brotha.
Niko Regalbuto @NikoReg
It is hard to express my thanks for any Sixer without first thinking about the master puppeteer. During the first half of the 2015-16 season, my Sixers fandom coincided with studying to take the law school admission test (LSAT). Law school prides itself on viewing everything through a very formalistic lens, and the purpose of the LSAT is to test your ability to peer into this lens and apply its framework. Every book you read in preparation talks about the necessity of abandoning bad reading habits or cautions against making false inferences. The message is clear: to be successful you have to change the way you think.
I want to thank Sam Hinkie for teaching me this lesson in sports. He taught me that every move around the margins matters. I still think the best part of his farewell address was his outward commendation of Danny Ainge for beating him to a Joel Anthony trade. It’s not lost on anyone that one of his rotating undrafted free agent spots eventually became the centerpiece in a superstar trade. We had never seen this kind of attention to detail on such a large scale. It was so bold in position that it was abrasive to the ideas of entrenched, conventional fandom. That is something I never wish to re-litigate, because ladies and gentlemen, we made it out on the other side and there’s a goddamn beautiful orchard.
Of course, I’m thankful for most of our process players, but I was to also use my space to thank Robert Covington. I’m very much like a broken record, but it’s worth repeating that Robert Covington is everything this city claims to support. An undrafted hustle-player who never complained, worked to noticeably improve different areas of his game, and became the third best player on a really good team. I’ll never forget his endgame heroics against Portland, or his game-winning alley-oop against the Timberwolves. He smiled in the face of criticism and kept proving everybody wrong. I wish I could do the same, but until I can, I’ll keep a sword raised in his name and defend his honor from a city afar. Hail Lord Covington.
I’ve been a big Sixers fan for as long as I can remember. I used to dress up as A.I. for Halloween, decorate my 4th of July parade bike in Sixers gear and even begged my mom to let me get braids one time after growing out my hair for a couple months. It was awesome growing up in the Iverson era. With that being said, as we all know, the Sixers were pretty mediocre for the 10 years after the NBA Finals run in 2001 and there just wasn’t a ton to get excited about. That all changed late in the Summer of 2012.
I remember it like it was yesterday, the Sixers traded for All-Star Andrew Bynum, they were going ALL IN. I was about to be a junior in college and I was sitting in my apartment on the bed for HOURS reading every post from RealGM, Liberty Ballers, Reddit, that I could get my hands on. I tweeted mock playoff standings that had the Sixers as the 2-seed behind LeBron’s Heat. I was pumped. Sure, it hurt to lose Iguodala, but we were getting a stud and were sure to be a contender after taking Boston to 7 games in the Eastern Conference semifinals, right?
Well, fast forward through the season and we all know how that ended. Bynum didn’t play a single game for the Sixers and they ended the year 34-48, completely missing out on the playoffs. The Doug Collins era was over and the Sixers had to start from scratch. Enter Sam Hinkie. The Sixers were bad that first year, but they still had a few vets on the team helping them to wins that surely weren’t part of the future and were very likely to be moved, guys like Evan Turner.
Most people don’t know this, but the silly @DidTheSixersWin account actually started as “Did Evan Turner Get Traded”, and in the days leading up to the trade deadline I would tweet “No.” for each day that ET remained a Sixer. I watched Twitter as the deadline passed and no trade for ET came about. It looked like he would finish out the season as a Sixer and potentially hurt our precious draft stock (in the draft that netted us Embiid). BUT WAIT, minutes AFTER the trade deadline passed, I see Twitter buzzing about an Evan Turner trade and an after-the-deadline announcement made it official. He would, in fact, be traded to Indiana in a deal that got us Process legend and Sixer-great, Danny Granger. I already had an account with a string of ‘No.’ tweets, but what could I change it to? Believe it or not, the Sixers were already on a 9-game losing streak, so I quickly changed the account to Did The Sixers Win, and they would remain winless in their next 17 games, extending the losing streak to a record-tying 26 in a row, and the rest is history. So while many people look back on the Evan Turner era as a failure because he never lived up to his #2 pick potential, I look back on his time here and remember that he was the reason I started that silly account in the first place. Thankful for you, ET.
Adio Royster @adiobroyster
This thanksgiving, I’m thankful for beef. Allow me to clarify. I’m not thankful for beef in the sense of actual meat like steak or the roast variety. I’m talking about something that has made this Sixers team -- and one player specifically -- very fun.
There’s something about NBA Beefs that makes the league more fun on an exponential level. Would the NBA have been as fun in the 1980s with Larry Bird, but without Julius Erving and/or Andrew Toney? Would the 90s have been as fun with Jordan, but without the Bad Boy Pistons? Shaq and Kobe. Matt Barnes and basically the entire NBA. Beef is fun.
Joel Embiid has a few beefs in the NBA, already, and he’s only played in 113 games. Embiid has a feud with Russell Westbrook -- a feud I outlined earlier this year. He has a feud with Hassan Whiteside and Andre Drummond. He even has a feud with Willie Reed of the Los Angeles Clippers -- for some reason that I have yet to figure out.
We’ve only seen Round 1 of the Embiid/DeAndre Ayton beef which started on draft night when Embiid took particular umbrage to being compared to Ayton:
Don’t compare Ayton to me either... I play DEFENSE— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) June 22, 2018
Ayton had 17 points and nine rebounds on Monday night, but Embiid had another 30+/10+ night (33 and 17 to be precise). These two only see each other twice a year, but like games against Westbrook, Whiteside, and Drummond, Embiid versus Ayton is must see television. The next round of the Embiid/Westbrook saga takes place on January 19th at the Wells Fargo Center, and I’m all in for that game.
I am thankful for many things about our current Sixers roster, but I think the thing I’m most thankful for is that Joel Embiid has such a playful, trash-talking mentality that makes watching particular matchups that much more enjoyable.
Happy Thanksgiving, and Trust the Process.
Sean Kennedy, Liberty Ballers (@PhillyFastBreak)
I’m thankful to cover a Sixers team where there’s never a dull moment. There have been bizarre injuries, social media controversies, more curious injuries, league-altering trades, and (did I mention the injuries? better do so once more, just to be sure) crazy injuries. A franchise that was about as mediocre and boring as they come less than a decade ago has transformed into one of the most widely discussed teams in all of sports. The injuries suck, sure, but we get through it together with inside jokes, hilarious memes, and that certain “All we got is all we need” mentality embedded within the very fabric of this underdog city. Plus, through all the mayhem, the Sixers are just a stone’s throw away from becoming (as Brett Brown would say) NBA royalty. It’s been a fun, wild ride, and I’m thankful to have a front row seat with the popcorn ready.
Collin Goinz @FreeCollin
This holiday season, I am thankful for my favorite Process Sixer, JaKarr Sampson — sorry Hollis. JaKarr was polarizing among people who didn’t really get the Process because there wasn’t really a player more obviously on the floor because of what he could become, as opposed to what he was. He was a college 4-man, who through a circumstance of injuries and trades, had a stretch as an NBA point guard. It’s not that he had some great chance of learning to shoot, dribble, and put his pieces together defensively. But he had a chance, and that was good enough for the Sixers. You could see his rawness and talent and everyone had to wonder what could’ve been if he learned to shoot.
I’ve always said that JaKarr Sampson was a jump shot away from being Kawhi Leonard. Did I mean it? Kind of.
I have always seen the PointKarr experiment as the embodiment of the Process. Of trying new things and not being afraid of failure and as proof the team wasn’t afraid to veer from the status quo if it meant failing significantly. The JaKarr Sampson experience wasn’t a total failure, he improved significantly and made a lot of people laugh with his infectious smile.
JaKarr was waived by the team in February 2016 in a voided trade for Joel Anthony. He signed with the Denver Nuggets.
You know what they were thinking? If he learned to shoot...
Ryne Jones @Ryne_Jones
This Thanksgiving I am quite thankful for Jimmy Butler. We waited quite a long time for our 3rd star and finally he has arrived. Jimmy has been one of my favorite players in the league for a long time and I feel truly blessed that he is now a Sixer. Jimmy’s home debut was everything we could have hoped for, but the Hornets game felt truly special to watch. It was like watching an angel spread its wings for the first time. Seeing a player isolate and pull up from 3 in a Sixers uniform was truly like seeing Halley’s Comet, but that is the reality we now have to accept will happen quite a bit more often.
It would be ignorant to be thankful for Jimmy without giving credit to Dario and Covington as well, so I am thankful for them by the transitive property. They were valiant soldiers here for a long time and deserve to be remembered as such, but a player of Jimmy’s quality does not change hands very often and I feel blessed that he is now a Sixer.
Robert Young @SixersSaturdays
Growing up, the Sixers took a back seat to the Phillies and Eagles. Other than loving Allen Iverson as a kid, I don’t remember becoming a real Sixers “fan” (watching games at least semi-regularly) until the second half of the 2008-09 season. I had almost no interest in them until they signed Allen Iverson in December of that year. There was nothing I wanted to do more than watch AI play. Sure enough, on Christmas Day of 2009, I found myself holding a white ticket envelope with the words “Run With Us” on the front, which was quite fitting for a team ranked in the bottom third in the league in pace the year before, but that’s its own issue. I vividly remember watching Chris Bosh put up what seemed like 30 points in the last 5 minutes to close out a 108-106 win for the Raptors. I didn’t mind though, I got to see me sports idol in person and became a Sixers fan from then on.
After a few years of average basketball, we got the playoffs: playing Miami and knowing we had no chance. There is something about not having a chance that I love. Maybe it’s the fact that doing the absolute minimum would amaze everyone, or it’s that IF you pull it off, you’re a hero. The morning of April 24, I woke up and read an article in the Inquirer, which basically said “before the series, we thought we could win one game, but after being down 3-0, there’s no chance that this series isn’t over tonight.” Lou Williams became a hero that night. His 3 in D-Wade’s face gave me hope for this team going forward...until one thing led to another and Doug Collins left and I was disappointed because he beat a crippled Bulls team in the playoffs.
Knowing we were in NBA Purgatory, Sam Hinkie traded everyone. At the time it was great, until I heard that we traded Spencer Hawes, the reason I wore 00 in CYO. After mourning for a few hours, I made the biggest mistake of my life, pushing all my chips to the middle of the table and going all-in on this franchise. For the next 3 years, I said “just wait 4 years” to anyone who challenged me on the Process. When I started Sixers Saturdays, it was to continue my broadcasting career I started in high school and to have fun with a friend (shoutout to Jimmy). Now, it’s turned into a weekly podcast with 2 new hosts (the Brendans) and my personal burner twitter to get sports takes off. It’s been nothing but fun (and blind trust) with this team, but there’s a family aspect that just isn’t there for other Philly teams.
Thank you Allen Iverson, for teaching me to love basketball.
Thank you Sam Hinkie, for teaching me patience.
And Thank you Sixers Twitter, for being a wild, yet welcoming place.
So Sixers fans... what are you thankful for?