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The Sixers need to log off

In terms of transactions, it’s been a quiet offseason for the Philadelphia 76ers, but it’s been much too loud on social media.

Philadelphia 76ers v Orlando Magic Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Social media is engrained in professional sports now and there’s no going back. For the most part, this is fine. Instant updates on games, trades, rumors and interactions with players — what could go wrong?

This Philadelphia 76ers offseason has been exactly what could go wrong. Members of the team and organization have spent a bit too much time trolling, posting ill-timed memes and now fighting a trade request battle, all in the public eye.

Before we even get to the examples, it’s understandable that there will be those that may argue that it’s all just fun and games, and it shouldn’t be taken too seriously. In most cases, this is probably true, but timing is the critical factor here. This is a team that fell in the second round of the 2022-23 playoffs for the third consecutive season, with a lackluster effort in the end to say the least. They’ve followed it up with a disastrously painful offseason that will likely see them enter the upcoming training camp in even more disarray.

That context is important. If you’re winning games, or at least going out with a fight, go ahead and have some fun on social media — even troll a bit if you want! But when you go out with a whimper yet again and then start fighting your professional battles on social media, you’re going to alienate fans. That’s exactly what’s been happening the past few months.

This week’s social media whirlwind was prompted by James Harden publicly calling Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey a liar (twice) and going on to say he is not willing to be a part of an organization that employs Morey.

Don’t kid yourself for even a second into thinking this wasn’t orchestrated for social media, either. Harden made sure these comments were in public in front of a crowd in China, where people would be recording him and would post the video that would ultimately go viral.

Posting this gallery of happy photos from his trip to China after absolutely obliterating NBA social media with that video, also not an accident.

Let’s put Harden aside, because he’s actively trying to burn the bridge between him and Philadelphia at this point. His social media strategy makes sense since he’s looking to force his way out. Instead, let’s look at the just a few examples of members of the organization that are supposed to at least pretend to care about the fans still.

Let’s be real, it’s only a matter of time before Morey himself — arguably the most online executive in the league — posts an ill-received meme in response to the Harden video situation. It wouldn’t even be the first time this offseason.

While other teams were making trades and picking up free agents earlier this offseason, the Sixers were deafeningly silent on the transaction front. Granted, Morey didn’t have much to work with, but while Philadelphia was losing players like Georges Niang, Jalen McDaniels and Shake Milton to free agency and, for some reason, just building an army of centers, Morey thought it was a good time to post this photo.

The caption pokes fun at a comment made by Tobias Harris this offseason claiming “casual fans” would trade him for a Crumbl Cookie. While other teams were making moves that will truly impact their teams’ effectiveness, Morey felt it was time to troll the fans a little, all while the Sixers were stagnant. Again, not a serious crime by any means, but it didn’t go down well with fans hoping to see the Sixers make some moves to improve after another disappointing season end.

Then, we have the latest social media move from Sixers star Joel Embiid this week, with the center removing his “Processing...” bio and location of Philadelphia from his Twitter profile.

Whether it’s expressing support for Harden, hinting at a future trade request or just expressing disappointment in the organization, this riled up fans on Tuesday morning, understandably. One more time for emphasis — it’s about TIMING! Even if these edits somehow mean nothing, it would be naïve, frankly unbelievable, to think Embiid didn’t have knowledge of the timing of making such changes this week, just a day after the Harden video went viral.

Of course, Embiid can hide behind the self-appointed “Troel” moniker if called out on this publicly, but it certainly seems like he’s making some sort of statement. It wouldn’t be the first time he used that nickname to get out of some trouble this offseason. After video surfaced of Embiid saying his goal is to win a championship, whether in Philadelphia “or anywhere else,” the star responded to criticism from Philly fans thusly.

It would almost be preferable for Embiid to just come out and say what he wants to say, positive or negative, in these cases. It’s the attempts at “trolling”, especially after he struggled toward the end of the Boston Celtics series that knocked out the Sixers, that isn’t sitting well with Philadelphia fans.

At least THEY’RE having fun, because the fans certainly aren’t.

Let me be clear, players and organization leaders are just people with jobs and they are allowed to use social media like anyone else and are able to express whatever feelings they want to publicly.

That being said, they have very public jobs that rely on not pushing away every fan, and how they use their social media has consequences. If you’re Harden, trying everything to get out of this city, maybe those consequences are irrelevant. However, if you’re Morey or Embiid, who are arguably the biggest names in the organization at this point, maybe it’s not the best time to fight your battles on fans’ timelines.

If they care at all about trying to keep their fans invested or give them something to believe in with the current state of the organization, the Sixers are actively making a bad offseason way worse seemingly every time they click post.

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