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Sixers playing the PR runaround game

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On December - 13 - 2009’s comical, laugh out loud funny. What I’m describing is the little game the 76ers are playing when it comes to their public relations.

First they tried to sell fans on the fact that Eddie Jordan was going to change things.  That Jordan was going to somehow make a team who normally can’t hit open jump shots into a “shooting” team with his “shooting and sharing the ball system.” Not to mention the farce of a hiring process, everyone knew Jordan was coming last season. He was Ed’s guy before and he was going to be Ed’s guy again, whether you liked it or not.

They sold it all to you with the smugness of a team that’s won something, only problem is, well , they haven’t won anything.

Then came the return of AI. They tired to tell you they were bringing in Allen Iverson to “play Basketball,” and not to sell seats or merchandise. In an effort to “sell” this to you the fan, they announced Iverson second to last. Introducing Andre Iguodala last, to try to make a point, to say that this was still Iguodala’s team. Only problem was it backfired, the roar from the crowd drowned out Iguodala’s introduction, many didn’t even realize Iverson hadn’t been announced last.

Well, they got Iverson back and filled the Wachovia Center once. Even with Iverson on the floor it was the same old story, another loss. Philly fans aren’t stupid, and things returned to normal, the next game the Center was as empty as ever.

Congratulations Sixers, you’ve completely alienated your fan base like I said you would. Good luck trying to get them back with the next crooked PR scheme you unravel.

-Mike Santa Barbara

*** Follow me on Twitter @Mike__SB ***

76ers need to find identity

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On December - 10 - 2009

Hawks 76ers BasketballThe Sixers had an identity once, it was called the AI era. And by identity I mean, everyone knew what the Sixers were. They were AI’s team, filled in with defensive role players. Larry Brown was the head coach, he was defense first, but knew his bread and butter was AI. It just worked, when they won games we knew why, and when they lost we knew the reasons. It was easy to figure out that team.

Every era comes to an end no matter how heart breaking it may be, everything eventually runs it’s course. The AI era ended with him being traded to Denver. If you remember, not many people were opposed to the trade of Iverson, Philly fans are smart and they knew it was time to move on.

Drafting Andre Iguodala was part one of moving on. After the trade of Iverson, everyone knew the “new” AI was being groomed as the next big thing. Building a team around him should have been the next logical step. However, the Sixers have wasted time and money on trying to find the quick fix. Whether it was Keith Van Horn, Glenn Robinson or Chris Webber, they all failed.

And now they’ve done it again, this time with a different GM and Head Coach.

Will this franchise ever learn?

Elton Brand is Keith Van Horn, Glenn Robinson and Chris Webber all over again. Andre Iguodala is Kenny Thomas right now, Iguodala is a talented player, but heavily over-paid. And now, the Sixers have regressed even further by bringing back an older and slower Allen Iverson.

When the Sixers drafted Iverson they eventually found the right head coach who understood what the team needed. Larry Brown knew that AI was going to score and do it often. He needed a team full of guys willing to be his supporting cast. Guys like Eric Snow, George Lynch and Tyrone Hill. It worked. Why? Because Brown built that team through needs, not wants. Sure everyone wants a “big” name, everyone wants a big scorer, and everyone wants to win, and win now. But look around the NBA, most of the time you flat-out can’t win that way. There are no quick fixes, there are no easy ways to win. It’s a process, it takes time and a little luck.

All good teams have an identity. The Sixers don’t and it doesn’t look like they’ll be getting one anytime soon.

-Mike Santa Barbara

*** Follow me on Twitter @Mike__SB ***

The third Phinally Philly Podcast!

Posted by David Foley On December - 4 - 2009
How will Peter Laviolette fit in Philly? Find out on the Phinally Philly Podcast!

How will Peter Laviolette fit in with the Flyers? Find out on the Phinally Philly Podcast!

The third Phinally Philly Podcast is online! Grab it from iTunes. Chris Shafer and yours truly discuss the Flyers big coaching change, and the returns of Allen Iverson and Placido Polanco!

The Answer is back, along with him come plenty of questions

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On December - 2 - 2009 Sixers have managed to put themselves back into the center of the Philadelphia sports world. After three years and three teams, the Answer has returned to Philadelphia.

The man who pulled this team out of the cellar and eventually to the NBA Finals is back. However, he doesn’t return as the AI we all remember. He’s no longer the MVP, nor a league leading scorer, and certainly not the superstar he use to be.

He’s the shot in the arm this team needs to fill the seats and sell merchandise. What remains to be seen is if he’ll give this team anything on the court.

As a PR move this is a no-brainer and everyone knows that. From a Basketball stand-point this could be an absolute disaster. Everyone seems to forget why the Sixers got rid of him in the first place.

The Sixers mediocre at best performance since trading Iverson has done little to give fans hope. This move gives them hope, returns them to better times, no doubt the Wachovia Center will be rockin’ on Monday night. However, the Sixers are setting themselves and their fans up for a huge let down. Most fans are now coming back for the first time since Iverson was traded. The Sixers are in danger of losing them again, this time for good. They are now giving these people hope, something they haven’t seen when it comes to this team since Iverson was here. When this move fails, and it will, the Sixers won’t have a quick fix move out their to bring fans back. Signing an Elton Brand type player won’t do it, they’ll have to get someone better and win with them first before fans will trust this franchise again.

Many in the Sixers organization have called this a low risk, high reward move. And that may be so when it comes to the contract they convinced Iverson to sign. However, the coming let down could hurt this franchise more than they think. They’ll have alienated their fans again. When the Sixers eventually have to deal with whats coming, they’ll be wishing they were back to the days when no one cared about what this franchise was doing.

-Mike Santa Barbara

*** Follow me on Twitter @Mike__SB ***

All they want for Christmas…

Posted by David Foley On December - 1 - 2009

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, we can officially begin that glorious countdown until Christmas (or Hanukkah for those so inclined.)

If you are anything like me you have probably started to scope out some presents you might ask for from loved ones, and while that’s not the most important thing about this time of year (haha…riiiiight) it’s still fun to share Holiday cheer with others. With this thought in mind, I decided to put together a wishlist for some high-profile Philly athletes with some things they may be asking for. If I miss anyone make sure you post it in the comments section!

**NOTE** There will be NO “throwing snowballs at Santa” jokes in this article! Well, besides that one!

Andy Reid“Coaching Football for Dummies.”

Optional side-gift: a tote bag so he can carry the book around on the field with him.

Ray Emery – Boxing gloves.

Perhaps the most useful gift on this list. Anything to help Ray vent his frustrations off the ice (and away from his teammates/coaches) is more than worthwhile in my mind. I already got a pair for Brett Myers a while back, but since he’s no longer in town the gift goes to Ray.

Daniel Carcillo – Two front teeth and a new set of hands.

I know the chicks probably dig the colossal gap but that has to get old after a while, right? Pretty hard to be an NHL player with stone hands too, so we’ll take care of all these issues with one fell swoop.

Cole Hamels“The Courage to Win” by Lisa Lane Brown, M.A.

The following is an excerpt from the website for this book I randomly found online. You tell me if it will work for Princess Cole:

“Have you ever started out confident, aggressive, and with the
right game plan only to encounter problem after problem such
as a bad start, an opponent who is ‘on fire’, poor conditions,
an unsupportive coach, or a teammate who can’t get it together?
Pretty soon, despite your initial confidence, you got that sinking
feeling in your stomach that today just wasn’t your day?

Have you ever under-performed…whether it was due to fatigue,
a surprising opponent, or simply a sub-par effort on you part…
and then found yourself struggling to re-gain your motivation
and confidence before your next event?”

It’s as if she’s reading your mind Cole!

John Stevens – A new job.

No explanation necessary.

Michael Vick - A new team.

Again, no explanation necessary.

The Wachovia Center during a typical Sixer game.

The Wachovia Center during a typical Sixer game.

The Sixers - Fans. Any fans.

It’s sad that a team with this much history can barely outdraw the Memphis Grizzlies. Yeah I know the NBA blows, but still, don’t you want to watch Elton Brand limp up and down the court for 35 minutes a night?!? What’s not appealing about that? Speaking of the old man…

Elton BrandA new walker.

A low blow, but when you get paid millions to be a franchise guy and end up coming off the bench and averaging 12-6 a night you have to see this coming.

Sean McDermott – a healthy linebacker.

First it was Stewart Bradley, then Omar Gaither, then Chris Gocong, then Akeem Jordan, and now Jeremiah Trotter is a bit gimpy. This is getting a bit ridiculous is it not?

Pedro Feliz - A new hitting machine.

If the man could swing a bat it may help him with his new team next season, whether that’s the Phils or some other franchise dumb enough to pay him.

Eric Bruntlett – A new fishing pole.

Anything to keep Beardo away from baseball and more importantly the Phillies. Actually scratch that: if I could afford it I’d PAY him to play for the Mets. His complete lack of skills would make him a perfect fit in that lineup.

Charlie ManuelA bottle of expensive wine.

Because some things just keep getting better with age.

Donovan McNabbRodney Dangerfield CD, “No Respect”

I wasn’t about to forget about our franchise QB!

I tell you, with these Philly fans I don’t get no respect! Coach Reid once tried to trade me to the Raiders for a roast beef sandwich but crazy Al Davis thought it was too big a price to pay. And this is the same guy who gave up a second rounder for Deangelo Hall!

DeSean Jackson – A dictionary.

Have you seen the guy’s Twitter page?!?

Sixers offer to Iverson: Not what it looks like?

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On December - 1 - 2009

While most of the Delaware Valley is waiting for AI to sign on the dotted line, I have had another thought. Could this Iverson-mania be the Sixers just covering their behind?

Could all this talk about the Sixers offering Iverson only a 1 year contract with no incentives be for a reason? Perhaps the Sixers offered it because they know he won’t take it?

If he doesn’t take the deal, Sixer fans can’t complain. The Sixers can say they tried to sign him, just couldn’t work out a deal. Turning the tables on Iverson, making it look like he didn’t want to come back to Philly anyway.

I can only hope the Sixers are smart enough to actually think this way.

Aside from that, things do look like they are progressing towards an Iverson return. There are positives, but the negatives far out-weigh them. Something I’ve made perfectly clear over the last week or so. Sure they’ll sell out the Wachovia Center, sure they’ll have a lot more National coverage. Though, it will come at a cost, make no mistake about that. Iverson is not going to lead this team to a Championship, he’s not going to win the MVP award and he’s not going to make anyone on this team better. He’ll drop 30 and the team will still lose by 10. Remember those days? We all love AI but we need to let him go, remember the memories and not tarnish the past.

A comment left by a reader in response to my last article perfectly described how I feel about this situation. Hopefully when others read it they’ll get it like this guy does.

“This team deserves to really really suck until we can get rid of some very large and undeserved contracts (Sam Dalembert) and hopefully get ourselves a good pick in future drafts. I’m willing to sit on a team that sucks if I know the future holds something better. Based on this, I think AI is the wrong choice…monetarily, team wise, age wise. It’s such a sixer move to bring in people who’s careers are over (Derrick Coleman, Chris Webber, Glen Robinison) and I have had it with that! The Sixers may manage to sham their way into the playoffs again and continue to stay mediocre, which is sooo much more frustrating than just being terrible. I will not buy into a sham any longer – a quick fix will not make this fan any happier. I loved AI, and I don’t want to hate him in the future.” -philsphever

-Mike Santa Barbara

*** Follow me on Twitter @Mike__SB ***

Hope is lost for Sixers

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On November - 28 - 2009

It’s already gotten to that point again. The point where covering Sixer games is like ground-hog day. It doesn’t matter how pretty you paint the picture, cause in the end it’s the same ugly one regardless of how well you try to paint it.

Well, I for one am done painting.

This team is no more talented than the rest of the cellar dwelling teams in the NBA. Worse yet, unlike those “other” teams, the Sixers have ZERO hope, and ZERO direction.

I’ve done my due diligence and tried to step up and stand up for the Sixer brass and Eddie Jordan. However, at this point it’s nearly impossible, we’re not even 20 games into the NBA season but,  all hope is lost.


Allen Iverson?

Why sign him? How many more games are you going to win? And would it matter?

First off, signing Iverson (and I have the utmost respect for my colleague Dave Foley) is in itself perhaps the worst idea the Sixers could have. He may actually help them win a few games and get them further out of the NBA lottery mix. He’ll take touches away from the young talent you actually have, and pollute the locker room with his “holier than thou” mentality. Don’t believe me? Then just read his “statement” released by Stephen A. Smith of all people, c’mon are we all stupid?

Don’t get me wrong he’s a terrific athlete, and I loved him when he was here. Though, his time is over, it’s done. He can’t accept it, and that’s evident from his half-assed retirement. He still thinks he’s NBA MVP material and he’s clearly not. He may be a good scorer but who wouldn’t be when they take 80% of their teams shots? And a good defender? Only cause he takes more risks than most, real NBA people know that he’s a liability on the defensive end.

The Sixers have to learn from the past and say NO to an AI return. Whether or not to sign Iverson again can be answered by one simple question. Can you win a Championship by signing AI? If you don’t know “the answer” to that, stop watching Basketball.

Now onto this roster as it stands right now. Flat out it’s a team full of average to slightly average players. The mixture makes? You guessed it, an average to slightly average team. As I’ve stated before the Sixers are in NBA cap Hell. And there really isn’t any way out. We’ve talked about trading away a star young player along with Dalembert or Brand, but your going to have to spend that money again. And is Ed Stefanski capable of spending that money more wisely this time around? This franchise can’t afford to not know the answer to that question.

When the Eagles or Flyers are bad fans don’t show apathy they show anger. The Phillies recent World Series win puts them in the same distinguished company as the Flyers and Eagles, leaving out the 76ers.  They have yet to have the kind of success necessary to outrage a fan base. Sixers fans are out there, they just don’t care, and the numbers are dwindling quickly.

Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. That’s what Sixer fans are saying. This team has to make them believe, show them something, anything. A positive step in the right direction, not a quick fix, a blue-print, hell even a promise. Philly fans have earned that.

The time is now to make things right. They can’t do it over night. However, they have to reach out to their fans, and this City. They have to say things are going to get better.

Sixer fans everywhere, demand it. Show them you care, show them your not happy, and help make a change.

-Mike Santa Barbara

*** Follow me on Twitter @Mike__SB ***

An AI reunion in Philly makes sense

Posted by David Foley On November - 25 - 2009

Allen Iverson is supposedly going to retire, although considering the source is this guy I’m not taking the news too seriously (seriously enough to drop him from my fantasy basketball team though…also if you don’t get the cheese doodle joke check this video out.)

I’m not sure if I’m in the minority here or not but I feel like AI has a few good seasons left in the tank. Yes he is getting older, yes his numbers have dipped over the past few seasons, and he certainly has taken a beating over the years. He is obviously no longer a superstar but that doesn’t mean he has nothing to offer a struggling team with lacking depth at guard. A team like…the Sixers!

With Louis Williams missing some time with a broken jaw, rookie Jrue Holiday is being pushed into action. Who exactly is going to back him up and help take some of Williams’ minutes? Royal Ivey?!? Maybe if you want to lose 60 or so games. Iverson is available, shouldn’t cost too much to bring in (especially after even the Knicks decided they didn’t want him) and he’ll have a chip on his shoulder the size of Maine. He just may bring a few disgruntled fans back to the Wach for the homecoming of one of Philly’s former favorites too.

There is some risk involved without a doubt, but when you are a mediocre 5-9 team in the East with two of your best players out with injuries you really don’t have all that much to lose.

Al Golden, You are the Man!

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On November - 24 - 2009

Al Golden, you are indeed the man. You have led Temple Football back to respectability in a very short time. Your Temple Owls are a game away from going to their first ever MAC Championship game.

You’ve preached accountability and taught these players how to win the right way. The team may not be on the top-level of College Football, but it’s certainly headed in the right direction, thanks to you. You showed how dedicated you are to this program after withdrawing your name from consideration of the UCLA job in 2007. And with the steady improvement season to season of this squad, it’s only furthered the support you’ve been given from the Temple faithful.

A few short years ago the Temple Owls Football Program was a laughing-stock, an embarrassment. Worse yet, they were a non-factor in the minds of Philadelphia area fans.

The Owls hired Al Golden, a former Penn State Alum, to try and turn this program around. From day one it was obvious he had a plan. The Owls made strides, although subtle, almost immediately. And now the benefits are finally paying off with the Owls posting a 9-2 record 7-0 in the MAC.

In an area dominated by Penn State, Golden has made it ok to once again rock the Cherry and White. Singing “Hail to Old Temple,” all the way to a MAC Championship and a Bowl Game in 2009.

-Mike Santa Barbara

*** Follow me on Twitter @Mike__SB ***


Sixers glaring weaknesses shining bright

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On November - 22 - 2009

No one expected the Sixers to have a chance against the Phoenix Suns. Yet they held their own, leading at times, until the Suns ultimately pulled away. Well act II was Saturday night against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

After falling behind early by 16 the Sixers kept plugging away, eventually taking the lead. And you all know what happened next.

After a poor effort and loss to the Memphis Grizzlies the Sixers took the floor with purpose against the Cavs. Which begs the question, can anyone figure this team out?

The easy answer is they play up and down to their competition.

Dig a little deeper and answers become blatantly clear.

The Sixers put themselves in a great position to win the game. They gave it away in the 4th, shooting poorly from the field and only managing 10 points in the quarter. Playing that way won’t beat anyone in the NBA, let alone a team the caliber of the Cavaliers, with a player the caliber of LeBron James.

Elton Brand had another good game and he’s looking like he’s finding his game. Which brings us to a problem with this team,  the inconsistency of it’s supporting cast. Thaddeus Young has struggled most of the year, and those struggles continued Saturday night. Andre Iguodala also struggled going only 6-22 from the field for 12 points.

If this team wants to win, they have to know what they’re going to get from their players. It builds trust, and it can raise the games of some of the other players. They’ll know they can count on each other, knowing that each of them can and must pull their own weight. Until then, this team will never be successful.

The glaring weakness on this team is the lack of an official leader. Iguodala has made strides but this team needs more. Elton Brand is showing promising signs of becoming that guy for the Sixers. Though, that gets us back to the consistency topic. He can’t be counted on, yet.

The Sixers have talent, but they need a lot more to become a competitive team in the NBA.

-Mike Santa Barbara

*** Follow me on Twitter @Mike__SB ***

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