For the last three seasons, the Philadelphia 76ers had fallen down the Philly Sports pantheon to least relevant team among the city’s other teams in the four major sports.
There’s a reason why that happened.
After years of being a middle-of-the-pack team, going 137-175 over a three-year stretch while just making the playoffs and being bounced out in the first round twice in that stretch with only one second round appearance, the Sixers decided to start a massive rebuild at the start of the 2013-2014 season under the leadership of former general manager Sam Hinkie.
Hinkie, who was brought on as general manager due to his analytical acumen, decided that the Sixers, who had minimal assets and no superstars, couldn’t compete in a league with LeBron James and, at the time, his Miami Heat, as well as the stacked San Antonio Spurs, among the other super powers, even in a best case scenario.
With this in mind, Hinkie decided that he would help make the Sixers team “tank.”
The Beginning of the Tank
In sports, tanking means fielding a team that cannot compete on a night in night out basis on purpose. By doing this, the team had a better chance at a top pick in the league’s amateur draft. By doing this, the team could potentially find another superstar or two and be able to compete by the time where LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers, Steph Curry‘s Golden State Warriors, or Kawhi Leonard‘s San Antonio Spurs were not the elite groups that they are.
In doing so, Hinkie shipped out all of the Sixers noteworthy players for draft picks and prospects, took on horrible contracts and players and did whatever he could to make sure the team had the best shot it could at a top pick. Most people around the league – whether they were players, coaches, management or the media of other teams – despised these actions, as it went against the ultra-competitive nature that the NBA and professional sports as a whole were built on.
Even with all the losing the team endured over the three years of tanking, one phrase reassured the fans, management and head coach Brett Brown that everything would be worth it.
“Trust the Process.”
It’s what management told the players during the seasons of constant losing and it’s a phrase that the team’s diehard fans have hung onto for dear life.
How bad did it get?
The team had 47 wins in their last 246 games, spanning the last three seasons. That’s a winning percentage of .191 percent!
The fruits of “the process'” labor
This season was looking to be a much brighter one, as the Sixers were awarded the first overall pick in last year’s draft and selected basketball prodigy Ben Simmons out of LSU. Back in preseason, though, the Sixers season took a major negative turn, when Simmons suffered a Jones Fracture in his right foot. He has still yet to play this season.
The Sixers, however, found another superstar on their roster, former 3rd overall pick Joel Embiid.
Embiid’s personality is even bigger than his 7’2″ frame. The Cameroonian big man missed the first two years of his career after two foot surgeries. Not many knew how good he’d be, if he ever did find the court.
Ironically enough, Embiid, who nicknamed himself “the Process,” has been a revelation for the Sixers. He has received lots of national attention, be it by way of his play or his social media presence, and has brought a lot of excitement back to Philly basketball.
Which is why this is the perfect time to jump back on the Sixers bandwagon.
Why you need to watch
If you want to watch a team with a ton of heart play every single night, then this is the team for you. If you want to root for a team that is constantly the underdog and has continually proved people wrong this season, then this is the team for you. If you want to be part of something really special in the coming years, then this is the team for you.
This future generation of the Sixers is a great metaphor for everyone determined to do great things, even when the situation they may find themselves in is less than ideal.
If you believe in yourself, good things will happen. If you stick to your guns and stick to the gameplan, listen to your support group, good things will come your way.
If you “trust the process,” great things that you never even imagined will come your way.