Croce was and is many things, but he was never "Mr. Croce." The sobriquet Mr. is bestowed, with almost creepy subservience, on only one man: Ed Snider.
According to some news reports, one of the causes of tension between Croce and Mr. was Mr.'s desire to take an increased role with the Sixers, which seemed to coincide with the Sixers taking an increased role in the playoffs.
But if I may be so bold as to pose Mr. a question: Where exactly were you when the Sixers - how shall I put this - sucked?
The only hands-on involvement I can ever remember Mr. taking was during the news conference to announce the hiring of Johnny Davis. He angrily berated the media for doubting Davis' ability, and, in an arrogant burst of irrelevance, favorably compared Davis to Fred Shero, the man who managed the Flyers to back-to-back Stanley Cups. (In truth, Mr. was right: Johnny Davis did know as much basketball as Fred Shero.) Yet when Croce performed the single bravest act in the history of Philadelphia sports ownership - meeting with Sixers season ticket holders to discuss the state of the team - Mr. was apparently caught in traffic.
If there is a surprising aspect to this whole scenario, it is the role of Comcast president Brian Roberts, who, if nothing else, would seem adept at interpreting a profit margin. I can't really believe that he and his dad were put off by Croce's announcing that he wanted Mr.'s job, since they themselves have rather publicly announced that they want AT&T. Yet these forward-thinking, results-oriented, corporate titans have chosen, at least for now, to support a man who last won it all during the Ford administration.
While there are many things that trouble me about Snider's approach to the fan, perhaps nothing causes me more worry than his statement that, with Croce gone, the Sixers will now behave like a "regular franchise." To which even a casual observer of Philly sports can have only one response: Please don't mean the Flyers!
I am not prepared for the sight of Sixers general manager Billy King responding to the next rift between Allen Iverson and Larry Brown by whining like a petulant schoolgirl. I am not prepared to see vice president Dave Coskey informing the public of a trade by releasing a scratchy audiotape of himself in lieu of a news conference. And I am not prepared to watch the entire Sixers organization, from the business office to the announcers, march in paranoid, joyless, unquestioning lockstep, as though it were the last vestiges of the TASS news agency.
We already have a franchise like that. It's the one Mr. runs. The one Pat Croce wanted to change.
Jerry Long (JerryBeggar@aol.com) and his brother Joe are known as the satirists the Sturdy Beggars.