I'm dense. When it comes to the teams I root for, I give the benefit of the doubt way too much. I watch night after night expecting that elusive world-beating performance I've seen in the past. No matter how much evidence mounts that those games are the aberration, I keep watching, I keep waiting. Even when they're losing, I see the effort, I see the heart, and I know that performance is in there somewhere. Well, congratulations, Sixers, you've finally beaten the last shred of foolish optimism out of me. Right now, I'm ashamed to call myself a Sixers' fan.
Take a look at the picture at the top of this post. Ben Gordon, 5 feet away from the hoop. Four Sixers just watching him take a floater. That's not about having less talent than your opponent. That's not about raw basketball skill. That's about a complete lack of effort. That's about selfishness, that's about a lack of heart. That's an embarrassment. That's a travesty. And that's pretty much the norm these days. This team disgusts me.
Ever since they got into the playoffs, they've been on cruise control and they've lost three key games to sub-.500 teams in a row. They don't care about playoff seeding. They don't care about anything but making the playoffs as far as I can tell, and now that they've guaranteed themselves a spot, they can't be bothered to even show up for these games.
I'm sick of hearing them say all the right things after losses. I'm sick of looking on the bright side. I've seen an utter lack of desire and will over these past three games and I cannot for a second figure out where this complacency has come from. Is it a "poor me" attitude because Thad got hurt? Too bad. Is it a "poor me" attitude because the schedule has been unforgiving? I've got news for you, playing three losing teams in a row is not a difficult schedule. You guys just stumbled through one of the easier stretches any
bottom-feeding playoff team will see this late in the season.
I'm sick to my stomach that I've invested all this time caring about this team. Sick. I feel like they've just quit. I can handle losing because you're over-matched. I can handle losing because the other team has a hot night. I absolutely cannot stand losing like this. I can handle losing, I've had to learn to deal with quite a bit of it watching this franchise. But for the first time since AI's last game in the uniform, when he quit on the team in Chicago, ironically, I'm convinced that this team isn't even giving it their all on the floor. They get down by double digits and they just play out the string.
Tonight, they looked interested in the first quarter. 12 minutes. That's it. Against New Jersey, they never looked like they even cared. Against Charlotte they put together about 15 minutes of "We really give a crap if we win or lose" basketball, the other 33 were pitiful.
Am I being too hard on them? No, I don't think so. Listen, I'm sure Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller are in the locker room right now icing down. They didn't hold anything back on the floor, but two out of twelve isn't nearly enough. If you can watch this team play about 10 seconds of decent defense, then decide that rotating to the open man is too much trouble for 36 minutes, then still give them the benefit of the doubt after the game, you're a better man than I. I've had enough.
Someone in that locker room needs to be throwing chairs and dumping over buffet tables right now. Someone needs to be telling Lou Williams that you do not have a big smile on your face after a performance like this. Someone, anyone, needs to say enough is enough. There's losing and there's quitting. We've seen far too much of the latter recently from this team and honestly, I'm damned sick of the excuses.
I came to two realizations tonight.
- If Thad isn't back, and isn't back at near full strength, the Sixers will get mercilessly swept out of the playoffs no matter what seed they wind up with.
- The Sixers will lose by 50 points tomorrow night if they show up with this type of "effort." Who knows, maybe that type of asswhipping at home would wake them up. Then again, probably not. They'd probably just have a few more "poor me" excuses to spout off.