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Insulting Our Intelligence

I received quite a shock this morning when I checked my Sixers Google alerts and found that a two-game winning streak had ended GM Ed Stefanski's vow of silence regarding his flailing team. When I clicked through to the link, my day took a dark, dark turn. Apparently, the Sixers have found their favorite journalist, Bob Cooney. Cooney is apparently a guy who will write the story they want and won't ask a single follow-up.

I hesitate to even give out a link to this worthless piece of journalism, but I will so you guys can suffer along with me.

Before you read it, I'd like to make something absolutely, 100% clear. The Sixers did not win these past two games because of their defense. In fact, their defense was still essentially pitiful in both games. They won these games, against two depleted squads, because their field goal percentage was absurdly high, and completely unsustainable. Take a look at the advanced stats chart below if you don't believe me:

Now, back to Cooney's article, titled "Sixers have reason for hope, despite record." Cooney uses the first seven paragraphs to lay out, in detail, every excuse in the book for the Sixers poor play so far this season. They traded away "bullish forward" Reggie Evans for Jason Kapono. The injuries, drafting Jrue, a new coach. Then we get into the quotes from Stefanski.

It doesn't start poorly, although Stefanski does sort of take Jordan's stance that the team just isn't that good:

"I haven't concluded anything with this team yet, but I will say that I'm not happy," said Stefanski. "Looking at our record, I don't think anyone would be, from myself to the players to the coaching staff. And we know the fans certainly aren't happy. This is a profession where you are graded on wins and losses. Right now, we do not have a good grade.

"But in going forward, we have to take one practice at a time and get better and take that to each game to get better. There is a broader picture of everything that goes on. We are working the phones trying to make our team better. We are scouting and getting ready for the draft. We're doing everything we can to make things better."

From this point on, the article slides straight into lunacy, with Stefanski spouting nonsense and Cooney apparently happy to swallow it without questioning the blatant lies he's being fed.

"In basketball you have to defend, that's the one emphasis we are stressing," he said. "All five guys on the floor have to defend. If one breaks down, the defense is in trouble. And if we defend, that will fuel our offense. We want to get turnovers and stops and get the ball out, use our athleticism and quickness."

You'd think, after a mouthful like that, you might ask Stefanski why he hired Jordan, a coach notorious for his horrible defensive teams, in the first place. But wait, there's more.

"I talk to Eddie Jordan every day about what he sees and what I see and personnel. We're in this together we're all accountable - players and coaches and I'm No. 1 there. The one thing that will get us better is emphasis on the defensive end. When you're on the court, you have to defend."

And here we go. "When you're on the court, you have to defend." That is, without a doubt, the most blatant lie I've ever read in print. Nothing, absolutely nothing could be further from the truth where the Sixers are concerned and everyone who's watched more than 10 minutes of Sixers' action this season knows it. Where the hell is the follow-up? Why isn't Cooney asking Stefanski to explain the Iverson/Williams back court? Why isn't he questioning five minutes for Jrue Holiday last night? What about Jason Smith and Jason Kapono on the floor at the same time? How about Willie Green's extended minutes?

Everything this coach has done, in and out of every single game, has been geared directly toward strengthening the offense at the expense of the defense. The only way they win games is through obscene offensive efficiency to overcome their deplorable defense, yet here we have a major Philadelphia newspaper essentially letting the team's GM espouse nonsense about how defense is the top priority without even attempting to poke holes in his absurd statements.

Worse than that, the headline says there's reason for hope. Why? What the hell has changed about the priorities for the players, the coach, the GM or the franchise? Two lucky wins, fueled by shooting which will not continue. Two games in which the offensive execution masked what was still piss-poor defense is reason for hope?

Let's be clear, if defense was even a moderate concern there is no way Eddie Jordan should've been hired to coach this team. He's got a track record of coaching horrible defensive teams. Whether his chalk talk somehow convinced Stefanski to ignore mountains of evidence, or Stefanski thought he could change Jordan is immaterial. Stefanski dropped the ball in a big way when he chose Jordan. The fact that he's now saying defense is of the utmost importance, without addressing the root cause of the defensive problems (the coach he hired) is ridiculous.

The fact that Stefanski is trying to hide the fact that he blew it isn't surprising. He's probably tied directly to Jordan at this point. It's not admirable, but it's understandable considering the corner he's backed himself into. What's completely deplorable is the Daily News giving Stefanski a free pass to essentially issue an unchallenged press release, disguised as a column written by a beat writer, lying to the hundreds of fans who still care about the team.

Speaking of questionable journalism, John Smallwood thinks the Sixers should trade Iguodala for Tracy McGrady, and also says Thad Young is the only Sixers who should be untouchable.

And finally, remember back in the summer when you couldn't go two seconds without Eddie Jordan telling us "You don't need a point guard to run the Princeton offense?" Well, the guy he learned it from disagrees.

"He needs a point guard," Pete Carril said before the game. "And then they'll get a lot better. A guy that knows how to get them easier shots than what they're getting . . . it's been ragged."

And once again, read the story from Kate Fagan I linked to above, then read Cooney's take on the same story. Cooney can't help but soften the blow of Carill's comments by injecting little snippets like, "Maybe Jordan only said that because he knew he didn't have a point on the roster."

For everyone's sake, I wish Cooney would go back to covering LaSalle.

Preview for tonight's game coming late, maybe something in between if my blood pressure drops between now and then.