Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sixers Need a Star

It’s hard to believe that its been ten seasons since Allen Iverson led an unassuming Sixers squad on one of the more memorable Finals runs in recent NBA memory.  I remember that run like it was yesterday, watching the team outplay and out will the rest of the Eastern Conference Field (Pacers, Bucks, Raptors) on the way to their first Finals in nearly twenty years.  As a younger fan of the franchise who was not alive for their last Championship in 83, this run was the epitome of excitement, and despite the outcome of the Final series, the season still felt like a success.  The buzz and excitement around the squad and its central superstar was at an all-time high, as the city rallied around the Sixers, hoping that they would be the team to put an end to the town’s title drought.  Although they fell short in this regard (luckily the Phillies picked up the slack seven seasons later) the 2001 version of the 76ers had the city more excited about the team than they have been in the decade since.

Reminiscing upon that season made me realize how much I miss having the Sixers as serious title contenders; not an average team that has become accustomed to early playoff exits.  I mean a team that you really believe, deep down, has a series chance to compete amongst the League’s elite.  Such a feeling surrounding the Sixers has been largely lacking since that magical Finals march, and missing entirely since Iverson was shipped West.  As a fan I miss that feeling, and would like to see the franchise return to that 2001 Finals form. 

The team, as it stands, is not too far off, as it has assembled a great supporting cast, but there has been a glaring hole in the superstar spot since the Iverson trade.  This is not a knock on Andre Igoudala, as he is a great asset to have, but he has shown he is not meant to be the centerpiece of the Sixers.  The core group of guys (Iggy, Turner, Holiday, Young, Williams) is an excellent young cast, and management deserves applause for building such a solid foundation for the future, now they just need to fill the biggest piece of the puzzle.

I know, easier said than done, and in order to acquire anyone of somewhat superstar status the Sixers would have to give up a couple members of that young cast, but it needs to be done.  The most successful Sixer squads were anchored by a superstar, just as the list of past NBA champions is made up almost entirely of superstar-driven teams.  It has become a proven franchise formula, and the Sixers have shown that they are not exception.  It could be argued that the current cast is better than any that Iverson had around him, so teaming them with a star, even if a couple pieces had to be lost in the process, would certainly be a large step in the direction of success, not to mention the jolt it would give frustrated fans. 

Superstars are not easy to come by, but it seems almost certain that in order for the Sixers to take that next step, they need to go out and get one; hit the free agent market hard, move some pieces, make some calls, anything but continue to sit still.  The fans and the franchise need it.

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Anonymous said...

It would be nice to see the Sixers package Iggy, Speights, and maybe Williams for a superstar scorer, ideally a 2 guard or center. If Evans can develop fast, we'd be in the top half of the East next year with a chance to compete with the Heat/Bulls.

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