Essentially, Eddie Jordan has spent the entire season telling us the Philadelphia 76ers team he was hired to coach is hopeless. He's used various colloquialisms to call the Sixers gutless, heartless, soft, devoid of leadership, devoid of talent, devoid of killer instinct. Well, it's taken quite some time, but he's finally managed to turn this team into all of those things, and much less.
To say the Sixers look like a bunch of stiffs out on the floor these days would be an insult to corpses everywhere. They look worse than listless. Selfish play would be an improvement, because it would entail at least a desire to pump up their individual stats. Right now, there's no desire for anything, but seemingly to get the 48 minutes of basketball out of the way so they can do whatever they do in their free time.
Folks, we have officially hit rock bottom. There are a few questions that spring to mind, the first being whether this is the team we've been watching for the past couple of seasons, or not? Is this their true nature? Are these guys really this bad? If you think the answer is yes to that question, then you must also believe that Andre Miller is possibly the best leader in the history of the NBA and/or Mo Cheeks and Tony DiLeo are simply master motivators.
This core group of players, minus Andre Miller, has followed a steady progression curve over the past two+ seasons. They did it by playing stifling defense, running off defensive plays, and scrounging for minimal offense in the half court. Oh, they did by doing those three things and they also did it with unbelievable effort, nearly on a nightly basis. That was their calling card. They rarely, if ever, mailed in games. They brought even more energy against the better teams in the league, and they made the playoffs in consecutive seasons really with a roster that was a couple of years away from maturity.
This season, we've seen a statistical regression from every player on the roster not named Lou Williams. More importantly, we've seen growing apathy from everyone on the team. You can draw your own conclusions as to why, personally, I think Eddie Jordan has been playing senseless head games with his players since day one, and his flawed systems have been exposed as just that, not only in the eyes of us unfortunate fans, but in the eyes of the players as well. Jordan has spent the entire season rewarding questionable play with minutes because questionable play is what he strives for. Hard work, dedication and effort was more likely to lead to extended minutes riding the pine than extended burn on the court. There were no set roles, no set rotations, no backing from the coach in the press. It was simply Eddie Jordan vs. the team, and when the playoffs were clearly out of site, there was nothing left to play for.
It deeply saddens me to see this team reduced to a collection of apathetic players going through the motions, because there was absolutely no reason it should've come to this. Ed Stefanski made a simple mistake in choosing his buddy to coach his team. It happens. I'm not going to crucify him for screwing up the initial choice. The unforgivable sin is that he let Jordan take the Sixers this far down the rabbit hole. The writing has been on the wall for months
, literally. There was no other way this season was going to end. There was no other possible direction this buffoon was going to take this team thar right where they are. The fact that he let it get this far is an error I'm afraid this franchise will be forced to pay for beyond this season.
Which brings me to the second, and far more important question. How much of this damage can be fixed? Does breaking a player ruin him forever? How about a year of development under an idiot, how many years does it take to unlearn flawed philosophy and technique? We've seen all of these players take a giant leap in the wrong direction this season, is it realistic to believe they'll even bounce back to where they were a year ago under a decent coach? What about the chemistry in the locker room? It seems pretty clear that they despise Jordan, but how much comaraderie can there possibly be after a dreadful season under a guy who thinks pointing fingers is a great way to run a ship?
I wish I had the answer to some of those questions, but I simply don't. It's apparently my lot in life to follow a cursed franchise religiously and keep myself awake at night trying to figure out how to fix it. It'd be nice if someone in the organization had the same problem.
If you're looking for a recap, all I have for you is the rotation chart, it should tell you all you need to know.