The Leadoff: What the (bleep) is going on with the Sixers

Oh boy, what a week to make my return to the Leadoff. As the sports seasons wind down I generally like to fill the space my column typically occupies with an extra local sports story. However, as of Tuesday, high school sports in this area are over and did you guys hear about what is going on with the Philadelphia 76ers and Twitter?

The entire story surrounding the Sixers is very interesting. If you are unfamiliar, Philadelphia has been abysmal for the past decade. This year they won 52 games, which is exactly four more games than they had won in the previous three seasons combined. Since 2008 (which, at first, seemed not that long ago until I googled 2008 and the Pussycat Dolls came up and I completely forgot that they were ever a thing) the Sixers have only had one other season with over a .500 record, they are the Cleveland Browns of basketball if you will.

You know that part in Spiderman (The ACTUAL Spiderman with my blessed Tobey Maguire) where Uncle Ben tells Peter, “With great power, comes great responsibility?” Well, for the Sixers, it was basically the opposite. They brought in a new general manager, Sam Hinkie, in 2013 and his plan was — get this — to lose even more. Hinkie is a Stanford guy who began his career in private equity and venture capitalism and looked at the NBA with a different set of eyes.

Hinkie realized that the NBA actually incentives losing. Where is the worst place for a sports team to be in any sport? It’s right there in that sports purgatory where your team isn’t the worst but also won't ever win anything (Kind of like what the Bengals have been the past decade). Everything about it is horrible. For starters, you aren’t getting a top draft pick, so you likely aren't getting someone that can change the face of your franchise, and in a sport like basketball, we have seen that in some cases one player can change the course of the entire league. Hinkie’s idea, if we aren’t the best then we need to be the worst.

However, fans don’t enjoy cheering for the worst team (I’m a Cubs fan trust me on this. It’s cute being losers but it’s so much more fun now with enemies and a chance to win). They are unable to think rationally because when broken down, the concept makes sense. Two weeks after the season is over, no one really cares who was last or second to last or sixth to last in the previous season because all that matters is next year. So, if you can make it through those two weeks of the vile comment section of the internet lapping upon your shores, you will come out with a bright future, and most importantly, hope.

“Trust the Process” you’ve probably heard it. This was the secret to Hinkie’s brilliance because hope never ends. The Sixers began tanking so that they could reap the benefits in the offseason, but they even took it to another level by drafting multiple players with their first pick that wouldn’t even play in their rookie year. Why I feel they probably would have taken the same players regardless of health, it was an expert tanking move because how can you accuse a team of tanking if their best players are injured.

His idea was revolutionary and counter-culture and like many pioneers, before him, he was seen as a loon and was made into a pariah while essentially being run out of the league. Several years later and now many teams are tanking, the Sixers are as loaded with young talent as any team in the league and now have (had?) a realistic shot at landing Lebron James this offseason.

I tell you all this just so that I can get to the funny part. Once the Sixers ran out Hinkie they hired Bryan Colangelo, the son to one of Sixers special advisors Jerry Colangelo. They hired him, it would seem, because it was a safe conservative higher from a good basketball family, someone to calm down the storm caused by the anarchy of Hinkie.

Now it gets good. This week the Ringer released a story about an anonymous tip they received regarding their general manager. The claim is that Colangelo has made several burner Twitter accounts (a throw away, anonymous, account that someone uses to pretend to be someone else and say their real thoughts) and has been trashing players, arguing he is better than Hinkie (the guy that was supposed to be a kook), leaking information and also, weirdly, commenting on his collars.

If true, it is pretty hilarious because the Twitter accounts, when looked at, seem to be pretty obviously Colangelo’s. They follow certain executives in the NBA an inside the Sixers organization and have tweeted some incredibly specific information that a Twitter egg shouldn’t have access too. The writer then sent an email about the Twitter accounts to the Sixers and later that same day the accounts started going private and deleting Tweets.

It’s the level of indiscretion that really makes this fantastic. Maybe he is being framed? It does almost seem too perfect but maybe he is just that dumb and, as 52-year-olds often are, is really bad with technology. But if he was bad with technology then how do we explain the multiple accounts? Because if I’ve learned anything from watching my grandma try to use her phone, it's that if she doesn't figure it out in the first two tries it's a quick, “Oh GD it, nevermind” and we’re on to the next thing. How great would it be if the NBA investigation reveals that all the accounts were Colangelo’s and that the reason he had so many was that he kept forgetting the fake email password to the last one that he created?

NBA finals prediction: Warriors in five.


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