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Theory: Adam Silver hates the Sixers and wants them to fail

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The NBA has two sets of flagrant foul rules: one for Joel Embiid, and one for everyone else.

Toronto Raptors v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Six Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been screwing over the Philadelphia 76ers for years.

It all started when he pressured the Sixers into bringing in Jerry Colangelo as an advisor. Silver showed that while he would never take action against teams losing due to incompetence, he wouldn’t allow a front office to have a long-term plan that involved short-term losing.

Jerry wasted no time in forcing out Process mastermind Sam Hinkie and bringing in his son Bryan as a replacement. During Bryan Colangelo’s time in Philadelphia, he made countless moves that would hurt the future of the team. He consistently passed on talented young players for useless NBA veterans, a mindset that can be tied directly to the team’s current lack of depth.

After the Colangelo family was caught bashing Sixers players and disclosing sensitive team information through multiple Twitter accounts, they were ousted from the organization. Brett Brown temporarily took control of the front office, and he got busy on draft day.

The Sixers traded Mikal Bridges to the Phoenix Suns for Zhaire Smith and the Miami Heat’s unprotected 2021 first round pick. Brown specifically cited the expected end to the one-and-done rule as part of the motivation to make the trade. The Sixers anticipated the 2021 draft as being the first to once again allow high schoolers, meaning it could have far more top-end talent.

Despite the Sixers being very open about the significance of this potential rule change, the league played dumb about it. Then, the league later announced the switch wouldn’t be made until 2022, in part because it wouldn’t be fair to teams that made trades involving draft picks.

This shift significantly lowered the value of the Heat pick, which was owned by the Sixers at the time. However, based on the comments out of the Sixers front office, we know that the “teams didn’t know” reasoning wasn’t exactly true. Interestingly, only one NBA team was harmed by the league pushing back the rule change.

And now, Adam Silver has found a new way to exact his revenge on the Sixers for The Process. This postseason, Silver’s vengeance has come in the form of bogus flagrant fouls on the Sixers’ best player, Joel Embiid.

After picking up a well-deserved Flagrant 1 in Game 2 against Brooklyn, Embiid still had three more flagrant foul points to go before the automatic one-game suspension that comes when a player receives his fourth.

Then things started getting ridiculous. In Game 4, Joel Embiid had a clean block on Jarrett Allen with follow-through contact onto Allen’s upper arm.

If Jared Dudley didn’t lose his mind after the play, it wouldn’t have even been reviewed. Instead, it was called a Flagrant 1, and the NBA opted against rescinding it.

In Game 6 against the Toronto Raptors, Embiid’s arm got tangled with Marc Gasol’s arm, resulting in clearly incidental contact to Gasol’s face and a major oversell by Gasol.

It wasn’t malicious, it wasn’t intentional, and the series hadn’t been particularly chippy. But Embiid was given a Flagrant 1, with an explanation from the officials stating the act was “unnecessary.” This Flagrant wasn’t rescinded either, and Embiid is now one flagrant foul away from a suspension.

If the reasoning is that any shot to the face is a Flagrant 1, that evidently isn’t the case. In another play from the 2019 NBA Playoffs, Draymond Green swipes James Harden in the eye for the second straight game.

Green wasn’t given a Flagrant for this play, nor the one from the game before. But the contact here was clearly more “unnecessary” than what we saw from Embiid.

Adam Silver has had it out for the Sixers for quite a while. They upset him by openly embracing tanking. Then, they got rid of his handpicked front office. Now he’s looking to get back at them by any means possible.

NBA ratings would benefit from the Sixers making the Eastern Conference Finals. Joel Embiid playing more games is good for the league. But Adam Silver just can’t help himself, and he’s holding Embiid to a different flagrant foul standard than any other player in an attempt to throw the Sixers off track and show everyone that tanking doesn’t work.

It’s no coincidence media outlets have spent more time relitigating The Process this postseason than at any other point since the end of Hinkie’s tenure. Adam Silver planted the narrative, and he’s willing to go outside his collectively bargained power to make sure it goes exactly how he wants it to go.


Okay, I don’t actually believe Adam Silver is conspiring against the Sixers. But I do believe he stepped out of line in what led to Sam Hinkie’s departure. I do believe the league’s logic on the timing of the one-and-done rule is invalid. And I 100 percent believe that two of Joel Embiid’s flagrant fouls would not be flagrant fouls on any other player in the NBA.

Intentional or not, the league is screwing over the Sixers. It would be nice if ownership would start standing up for their interests and their franchise cornerstone.