5 Reasons the Sixers Are No Longer the Laughingstock of the NBA

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One of the funnier moments in recent Sixers memory happened on January 29th of last year. Down a point to the hated Celtics in Boston, Evan Turner drove the lane and hit a short shot at the buzzer to give the Sixers a 95-94 wins. Fans on Twitter exploded — in anger at Turner. This was the Sixers 15th win of the year, and a lot of people thought the Sixers had played too well: They’d hurt their chances at getting the No. 1 overall pick too much.

After that win, the Sixers would proceed to lose 26 consecutive games, not getting another victory until March 29th. Turner was eventually traded to Indiana. But those fans were right, in a sense: Despite the long losing streak, the Sixers did not end up with the worst record in the NBA. Their 19-63 mark was second-worst, and the 76ers only landed the third overall pick when Cleveland jumped all the way from ninth to win the NBA draft lottery and the team with the worst overall record (Milwaukee) nabbed the second pick.

This season was not expected to have any of the philosophical debates over winning and draft position. The Sixers were not coming in with a small veteran corps like they had the previous season. They came into the season with one active player, Malcolm Thomas, who was born in the 1980s. Everyone else was a ’90s kid.

As expected, the team started 0-17. Deadspin began a series of posts ragging on the Sixers, calling them a “cynical and indescribable fraud” and “capitalism’s diarrhea.”

But a funny thing happened since that train wreck of a start. The Sixers have clawed from 0-17 to a 7-29 mark (which is merely embarrassing). Two — two! — professional basketball teams have worse records than the Sixers: The Knicks (5-35) and the Timberwolves (5-31). And, on cue, fans are actually starting to grumble that the 76ers are winning too many games, that they’re sabotaging their chances at a top player. No longer are the Sixers an abomination to all that is good and holy about basketball. Now they’re just bad.

So how’d they get there? Here are five reasons the Sixers are no longer the laughingstock of the NBA.

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Sixers Suspend Kirilenko

When the Sixers traded for Andrei Kirilenko earlier this season, it was expected that the veteran forward wouldn’t be in Philadelphia long — that, given the Sixers’ tanking ways penchant for departing with talented veterans, “AK-47″ would end up on another team. And soon.

Didn’t quite work out that way.

“The 76ers have suspended forward Andrei Kirilenko for not reporting to the team after his trade from the Brooklyn Nets last month,” the Associated Press reports. “Coach Brett Brown confirmed the suspension during a shootaround before Friday night’s game in Brooklyn. He says he had been looking forward to coaching Kirilenko.”
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Jeffrey Lurie Enters Competition for Philadelphia’s Worst Sports Owner

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

In case you haven’t noticed, Philadelphia has a sports team ownership problem.

It took last week’s Eagles front office fiasco to get me thinking about this. And the Eagles are the one viable team in this town right now.

Jeffrey Lurie has now owned the Eagles for 20 years. Not only is there no championship of which to speak, but now I’m very leery of the direction this owner provides towards that end. When confronted with in-house bickering of his lieutenants, Lurie caved like a pre-fab house in a stiff wind. His anointing of Chip Kelly as the main architect of the franchise and demotion of Howie Roseman from general manager to vice president of shoulder pads, or some such thing, was not exactly generalship. It was a panic move from a weak leader.
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Psst: The 76ers Won a Game

The 76ers won just their fourth game of the year Tuesday night — a Festivus miracle! — rallying to beat the Miami Heat, 91-87.

When the 76ers beat the Heat at the beginning of last season there was a lot of excitement that A) maybe the team wasn’t that bad and B) because the Heat were defending champions.
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Report: Sixers Actually Want Guy They Traded for to Play for Them

Per Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, the 76ers actually want Andrei Kirilenko to report to the team. This not quite a #WojBomb, per se, perhaps more like a #WojFirecracker.

Still, it is interesting. The Sixers traded for Kirilenko – who had fallen out of the Nets’ rotation this year — as a way to help Brooklyn clear salary. In exchange, the Sixers got a second-round pick in 2020 and the right to swap second-round picks in 2018.

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Check Out This Amazing Block by Nerlens Noel

There isn’t much to celebrate about the Sixers this year. They’re 2-22, they blew an 18-point fourth quarter lead on Saturday and they waived a guy from St. Joe’s to sign a dude from Turkey. (On the plus side, Furkan Aldemir has a good name.) While the plan may help the Sixers be watchable in future seasons, currently Sixers games are pretty grim.

But if you struggled through last night’s blowout loss to the Celtics, you at least got to see an incredible block by Nerlens Noel on Jared Sullinger. It was so good, color commentator Malik Rose even uses an acronym (“sugar honey iced tea”) to convey a word you’re not supposed to say on TV (shit) after the play.

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Sixers Acquire Draft Pick They Can Use if the NBA Still Exists in 2020

While NBA players may all be wearing exosuits like in that Jonathan Lethem short story by the time they can use it, the Sixers made a trade yesterday to acquire a draft pick in 2020. Heck, let’s hope the NBA still exists then!

The Sixers traded Brandon Davies to the Brooklyn Nets for Andrei Kirilenko, the right to swap second-round picks in 2018 and a 2020 second-rounder. The Sixers also got cash. More assets for Hinkie! Won’t you be excited when the Sixers make that extra second round pick in 2020, if you’re still alive then?

So why no mention of Kirilenko?

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The Best Thing That Happened This Week

Philadelphia 76ers center Drew Gordon, left, forward JaKarr Sampson (9), forward Jerami Grant (39) and guard Hollis Thompson watch from the bench in the fourth quarter.

Philadelphia 76ers center Drew Gordon, left, forward JaKarr Sampson (9), forward Jerami Grant (39) and guard Hollis Thompson watch from the bench in the fourth quarter.

Shut up. Sure, it was ugly right from the start, when the teams lined up the wrong way. All those missed three-pointers. That second quarter! Again with the passes to the refs! But somehow they held it together, right up until the end. For almost a quarter of the Sixers’ roster — Nerlens Noel, K.J. McDaniels, Jerami Grant and JaKarr Sampson — it was the first NBA win they ever played in. And yeah, you don’t want to show it too much when you’re 1-and-17, but it felt good.

Plus they warded off that “All-Time Worst Start” tag. Whew.

Now get back to what you do best.

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