An honest question for you guys to ponder. In no way am I saying we shouldn't watch, or we should boycott the team, I'm just looking for some honest to goodness introspection. While a lot of us differ on how to turn things around, I think sentiment is pretty much unanimous regarding not only the level of play we've seen from the Sixers but their near future outlook as well. After the jump, I'll tell you why I still watch, and hopefully you guys can share some thoughts of your own.
This post was prompted by a thoughtful piece Jordan from Liberty Ballers wrote last night. Essentially, Jordan said he's done griping about Eddie Jordan for the season because it's ruining the joy of watching Sixers and writing about them. I feel his pain. I can't make the same promise, probably because I'm a glutton, but his post definitely got me thinking about the physical act of watching a game at this point, and also the range of emotions I go through during it. The question "why do I do it?" came up more than once.
If I had to boil it down, I'd have to say that I watch for moments, now.
In the past, I'd watch bad teams play to see development, or improvement. The team was young, and flawed, but there was always this feeling in the back of my mind that something better could be on the horizon. In recent years, the team was truly exciting. If you think about the surprising wins the Sixers had over the past couple of seasons, I'm talking about manhandling Portland, or taking down the Spurs, or beating the Lakers in LA. Those games weren't about lucky shooting nights, they were about defending. They were a glimpse into the potential, a preview of where this team could be headed, and they kept me excited for the next game, without fail.
I don't go into games with that same level of "anything could happen tonight" feeling anymore. Instead, I look for small glimpses into what a Jordan-free future could hold. A pick-and-roll with Speights and Jrue, an Iguodala one-man fast break - defensive board + push the ball = dunk on someone's head, Jrue putting premiere penetrating point guards in shackles, Jrue picking someone's pocket, Speights throwing one down, Iguodala beating a double and finding someone for an easy finish, the frustrated look on a wing's face when he realizes he isn't going to be scoring on Iguodala, Thad's out-of-control-but-under-control spinning moves through the lane. Simple pleasures.
I also really enjoy seeing Elton Brand take all his frustrations out on the other team. Whether it's in the form of his regained touch, his bull-in-a-china-shop drives to the hole, blocked shots or insanely hard fouls around the hoop, I take pleasure in seeing him demonstrate at every opportunity why he deserves 35+ minutes a night, even if he'll never get them under Jordan, and even if he won't be playing at this level (at least not for the Sixers) when it matters.
Honestly, I'd say there's usually a maximum of five minutes per game with a decent lineup on the floor these days. Five minutes where I can pretend I'm watching something meaningful on a larger scale. I realize how pitiful that is, but I still cherish those five minutes.
Maybe I'm a glutton. Maybe I get what I deserve, but I still look forward to the games, and I still watch every second. Eddie Jordan has pretty much made the score irrelevant, which is horrible, but I can't see past it. The Sixers have really only had two decent, hard-fought wins all season. The game at Boston and the second game of the season against the Bucks. The other eight wins have been some combination of lucky shooting, horrible opponents or opponents weakened by injury. Those are hollow wins, and they're what bad coaches hang their hats on.
I don't know, basketball is a magical, beautiful game and the Sixers are my team. I'm not sure it needs to get more complicated than that. The day goes faster when there's a game that night. I thoroughly enjoy the conversations we have here before, during and after the games. The heartache, the anger, the bewilderment, the righteous indignation I could obviously do without, but that's what we've got this season.
So what's your story? What do you hope for when you turn the game on or drive down to the Wach? What simple pleasures make it worth your while? And if you haven't tuned them out already, do you think you'll reach that point?