Well, we’re here, folks.
We’ve reached the ‘Compare Jewish Holiday Accoutrement to Sixers Stuff’ stage of this column during the NBA’s COVID-19 suspension.
Like many of you, on Wednesday and Thursday last week, I spent time dropping into various family-and-friend-organized seders to celebrate the Jewish holiday, Passover, via Zoom.
Each seder was similar to the next: disparate members of extended families navigating an online Haggadah with varying aptitude, setting up somewhat of a seder plate in their own homes, all in an effort to come up with something of a reasonable facsimile for the annual tradition in our religion.
One yearly tradition from this particular holiday, unfortunately, was difficult to piece together via video chat: acting out The Ten Plagues. For the goyim among us, the Ten Plagues, I’ve read, were ten disasters inflicted upon the Egyptian people by God in an effort to force the cold, unflinching hand of the evil Pharaoh, to — at long last — set free the Jewish people from bitter slavery.
While I am here to neither fact-check this story for voracity nor debate religion in any way, all this hardship talk got me thinking. I just so happen to belong to another religion (of sorts) that is also no stranger to hellacious disasters.
On the whole, Sixersfanicism has been a scourge used to sap what little hope for championship basketball remains in my heart every season. Each year, a new bubonic plague of basketball befalls the Philadelphia 76ers, and since I apparently took a blood oath in another life to support this team for all time, I refuse to abandon ship.
And so let’s take a look at how ten events in Sixers history compare to the Ten Plagues of Passover.
It should be noted that I’m well aware that yesterday was Easter. I hope that all who celebrated were able to have a fun time, virtually connecting with loved ones in this very strange, uncertain time. No matter your religion, if you are reading this post you are either a die-hard Sixers fan or you’re my mom, Terri.
So we’re all in this together.
(1) The Plague: Blood
The Event in Sixers History: That Time a Sixers-Kings Game Got Postponed Due to Flooding on the Court
As the story goes, at first when Pharaoh refused to free the Jewish people, God turned all of the water in Egypt into blood. The water was converted into streams of blood, all throughout Egypt. It smelled awful, fish died, it was a bummer of a time for all involved. The plague inhibited and restricted all the people of Egypt in countless ways.
On November 30, 2016, a Sixers-Sacramento Kings game had to be postponed because of a strange, consistent moisture on the court. Arena staffers quickly tried to mop up all of the water, but that proved to be too tall of a task, so close to gametime. This led to a stadium half-full of Sixers fans going home unhappy, the postponement of the game entirely, and this wonderful tweet from The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey:
Watch this video to see how wet the floor gets. #Sixers #SacramentoKings pic.twitter.com/96qHdS8z8h— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) December 1, 2016
(2) The Plague: Frogs
The Event In Sixers History: That Time Elton Brand (the player) Bit on a Pump-Fake And Dislocated His Shoulder
According to this website I’m reading, after the ‘blood’ thing did nothing to force Pharaoh to set free the Israelites, Aaron (on order from God) sent forth tons and tons of frogs. Enough frogs to cover every inch of land, and each person with the frogs’ slimy film. Pharaoh was moved enough by this plague that he promised to free the Jews, but reneged on his promise once the frogs returned to the sea.
In December of his first season as a 76er in 2008, Elton Brand dislocated his shoulder after jumping (like a frog) after a pump fake from then-Milwaukee Buck Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Brand — who had just concluded the rehab on his torn achilles the offseason prior — would miss the rest of the season, which was the first of his five-year, $82 million deal with the Sixers. It would be a harbinger of things to come for Brand’s disappointing tenure as a Sixers player.
(3) The Plague: Bugs
The Event in Sixers History: Gastroenteritis
God then ordered Aaron to summon all the bugs out of hiding, and onto everything in sight in Egypt. No man, woman, child or animal was safe from the infestation.
The Sixers have been so afflicted with gastroenteritis throughout the past few years that they must be the record-holder for number of gastro-related problems for any group of 15 peak-condition people.
Once a week, it feels like we are due for a QUESTIONABLE: GASTROENTERITIS designation for some player on the Sixers. Just last season, the problem took hold of Joel Embiid during the second round of the playoffs versus the Toronto Raptors:
Sixers' Joel Embiid on his gastroenteritis before Game 2 win over Raptors: "If you've had the sh-ts before, you'd know how it feels." pic.twitter.com/7JaBZDCqBO— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) April 30, 2019
(4, 5) The Plagues: Wild Animals, Pestilence
The Event In Sixers History: I Couldn’t Think of a Good One For These (Not That the Others Have Been ‘Good’ Per Se) But Here Are Some Pictures of The Sixers and their Pets
(6) The Plague: Boils
The Event in Sixers History: Everyone’s Meniscus Tearing
In this plague, God, through Moses, made it so that all of Egypt’s people and animals were covered in extremely painful boils all over their bodies.
Between 2016 and 2017, the Sixers had an inordinate number of meniscal tears that would shelve key contributors. In the case of Joel Embiid, of course, the issue was exacerbated by Bryan Colangelo, who lied and told half-truths to the media about Embiid’s injury, listing him day-to-day with a bone bruise for a full month. Nonetheless, the Sixers are no stranger to The Plague of The Meniscus.
Update:— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) March 22, 2017
Embiid to undergo surgery on meniscus in left knee in coming days. Additional details to be announced upon completion of procedure.
Update (cont.):— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) April 12, 2017
Robert Covington will undergo surgery to repair the meniscus tear in left knee in the coming days.
The @Sixers announce @JahlilOkafor out for season to undergo surgery on torn meniscus. https://t.co/XEVQa5PTZ5 pic.twitter.com/pqHUprIWLR— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) March 11, 2016
(7) The Plague: Hail
The Event in Sixers History: That Time Donyell Marshall Hit 12 Threes Against the Sixers
For the seventh plague, Moses summoned the heavens to rain down a vicious hail onto the people of Egypt that killed many of them instantly. Pharaoh then sought out Moses to show contrition for his sins. He let Moses go, and when he did, the hail stopped.
On March 13, 2005, Donyell Marshall — an average 3-point shooter on the Toronto Raptors — rained down a hail of his own by making 12 of 19 attempted 3s on a hapless Sixers team. Andre Iguodala wrote about this game in his memoir, The Sixth Man, but to paraphrase: Sixers head coach Jim O’Brien had decided that there was a specific spot on the court from which it was most difficult to make 3s, so that spot could be left open. Marshall hit the great majority of his record-tying 3s from that very spot, as O’Brien refused to deviate from his gameplan.
(8) The Plague: Locust
The Event In Sixers History: The Al Horford Contract
With Pharaoh continuing to refuse to let the people go, Moses summoned hordes of locusts into Egypt, which quickly ravaged the town, casting a bleak pall over everything in sight.
Similarly, Sixers GM Elton Brand signed Al Horford to a four-year, $109 million contract. It’s basically no fault of Al’s — the deal was ill-conceived if well-intentioned — as Horford proved to be an untenable fit on a team that features a 7-foot-2 offensive lynchpin center, and a 6-foot-10 point guard who won’t shoot. The contract capped out the team for the conceivable future, and this summer, the team will likely have to pay to get off of the deal.
(9) The Plague: Darkness
The Event in Sixers History: April 6, 2016
in this plague, Egypt became enveloped in unquellable darkness that drove its people mad.
(10) The Plague: Death of the First-Born
The Event in Sixers History: The Rookie Curse
The final straw in this string of plagues occurred when God struck all first-born children and animals in Egypt. Among them was the first-born of King Pharaoh. Finally, he let the Jews go.
The Sixers have a sordid history of injury and other weirdness befalling their prized rookies. In order:
- Nerlens Noel missed his first season with a torn ACL.
- Joel Embiid missed his first two seasons due to fractures in his foot.
- Jahlil Okafor did not get hurt in a major way, but the trouble he got into off the court largely contributed to the coup that occurred in the team’s front office.
- Ben Simmons missed his first season with a Jones Fracture in his foot.
- Markelle Fultz.
- Zhaire Smith missed the great majority of his first season after a near-death experience he underwent after suffering an allergic reaction from eating a sesame seed.
If that’s not a plague, I don’t know what is.
Whatever you celebrated (if you celebrated), I hope you did so safely and happily. Here’s hoping this time next year we’ll actually be allowed to be surrounded by the ones we love. Go Sixers.