Less than seven years ago, the Sixers ignited an unexpected fire when they defeated the Chicago Bulls and took the Garnett-Allen-Pierce-Rondo Celtics seven games in the 2012 NBA playoffs. For a team that finished just four games above .500, it was quite an exciting time in Philadelphia. And it made ownership hungry for more: the following summer, they would make a franchise-altering attempt at jumping into the NBA’s elite by trading for All-Star center Andrew Bynum.
The Bynum experiment was an epic failure though, and after the 2012-2013 season, the Sixers ownership decided to blow things up. Sam Hinkie was brought in and the Sixers began their tank initiative in the summer of 2013. The ensuing three seasons would see the Sixers essentially lose on purpose in order to increase their chances of hitting the Draft Lottery. But by the 2016-2017 season, with Bryan Colangelo then at the helm of the Sixers’ front office, Philly decided it was no longer going to be terrible. They would win only 28 games in ‘16-’17, but the team went through a period of being a truly solid team that season (before Joel Embiid got hurt) and although they were below average, they weren’t embarrassingly awful. Particularly of note is that the fan base genuinely enjoyed that team.
You likely already know all of this. But there’s still someone who doesn’t: Ted Leonsis, owner (and saboteur) of the Washington Wizards. According to Leonsis, the Sixers were ‘really, really bad’ for a very long time. Now, claiming the Sixers tanked for longer than they actually did, ignoring reality? Talking heads have been doing this for a while. Turn on any of the major sports networks’ debate-style shows and you will hear some intellectually dishonest blowhard accuse the Sixers of tanking for half a decade. Even Steve Ballmer has asserted that the Process was longer than it actually was. But Leonsis is breaking new ground. According to Candace Bucker and Scott Allen of the Washington Post, Leonsis said the following of the Process:
“We just played Philadelphia, and they have shoes that say ‘Trust the Process,’ ” Leonsis said. “And they were really, really bad for seven years. And I looked when we beat them at home, they had two guys that they picked in the first round in the lineup. So, you know, that process is pretty risky in and of itself. I don’t think you can tell players, coaches, staff: ‘Don’t make the playoffs and tank!’ We will never, ever tank.
“We had a strategic plan when I first bought the team to trade our all-star players and get under the cap and get high draft picks, and we did that. We were able to keep those high draft picks with second and sometimes third contracts. So that’s been our process. But I don’t want to do that process anymore. And I don’t think you can tell a coach, I don’t think you can tell a staff, ‘Don’t try to win.’ I will never do that. So if this team makes the playoffs on its own, that’s fantastic.”
Ted. Teddy, teddy, ted. Buddy. Get your bloated head out of Ernie Grunfeld’s ass. Seven years? In the last seven years, the Sixers have made the playoffs twice and are currently on their way to a third appearance while your rotting carcass of a franchise drags itself through yet another disappointing, underachieving season. If the Wizards don’t turn things around soon, they will have just one more playoff appearance than the Sixers since 2012. That is what an accurate description of seven years of performance reads like, Ted.
Why do people do this thing where they over inflate how long the Sixers were bad, in this case, more than doubling the amount of time? Is Ted Leonsis this delusional? Well, he did consent to adding Dwight Howard to possibly the most morale-depleted locker room in professional sports, so... maybe. Listen, the Wizards have already been tanking for a long, long time. They just don’t call it tanking in the DMV area. They call it “being managed by Ted Leonsis and Ernie Grunfeld.”