Tuesday night was the NBA Draft Lottery, which for the last four years, had become a Super Bowl of sorts for fans of the Philadelphia 76ers. Now, however, the city of Philadelphia knows what it feels like to win a Super Bowl, and like their feathered brethren across South 11th Street, the Sixers have moved on to bigger and better things.
As a result, the annual lottery party, hosted by the Rights to Ricky Sanchez podcast, transformed from an anticipatory event for what was about to unfold, to a celebration of everything that’s come before us. The lottery itself was a bit of a snooze. The Sixers rolled out the Old School Chevy, Elton Brand, to represent them on the dais. Like his steady, reliable moniker would indicate, the Sixers simply held serve with the 10th overall pick, courtesy of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Meanwhile, any enjoyment of the proceedings came from Celtics schadenfreude, much needed on the heels of Boston’s 4-1 series victory in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Celtics representative Rich Gotham, who sounds like a name discarded by comic book writers for the evil executive antagonist, brought Boston no luck in having that Sixers-via-Lakers pick jump into the second or third slot. Even better, Sacramento jumped up to grab the second overall pick instead. Personally, I can’t wait for DeAndre Ayton to help bolster the Kings enough to only hand Boston the 12th pick next summer.
This year though, the lottery wasn’t the main course for the gathering, it was merely the after-dinner drink. I was in attendance, adhering to my personal doctrine to attend any event where thousands of people are booing Howard Eskin. We witnessed the first official Process wedding, with the brother of Liberty Ballers’ own Caleb Turrentine tying the knot (congratulations Lauren and Zeke!). Honestly, I think if people chanted “Trust the Process” after everyone exchanged vows, this country’s divorce rate would plummet.
We also watched a terrific slideshow soundtracked by an “Imagine” homage to the Process-era (I don’t want to imagine one more second of watching Spencer Hawes, thank you very much). Plus, somehow, Robert Covington agreed to be in attendance for a live podcast interview.
The highlight of the RoCo session was his revealing that Evan Turner texted him “I’m gonna get you back” after Covington’s game-winning three against the Blazers last season. Host Spike Eskin responded that if we have to wait for Evan Turner to get him back by hitting a three, we’ll be waiting a long time. The entire exchange served as a reminder that there were honestly people who thought the Sixers shouldn’t tear things down because they had pieces like Evan Turner. Evan Turner, who had a 9.9 PER this past season. Truly, those were troubled times.
It’s genuinely a special following we have here in Philadelphia for our Sixers. As the official reverend of the Process Pablo Torre put it, the Magic lottery party is just Evan Fournier googling his own name. Philadelphia escaped that quagmire of incompetence and irrelevance in which about one-third of the league resides. Things may not be perfect, and the loss to Boston stung, but at least we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
In the end though, the entire idea of a Sixers lottery feels like it has nearly run its course, like a show bringing out big-named guest stars before it jumps the shark for good. One of the lottery party shirts this time around simply read Too Good, a phrase that was trending in Philadelphia leading up to the event. A small part of me felt like the team was Too Good to keep engaging in these same old shenanigans. Hopefully, when next May rolls around, Sixers fans will care a lot more about the Conference Finals game playing after the lottery than the lottery itself.