Gonzo: Assigning blame for 76ers mess

Posted: February 05, 2010

Not long ago, I went to a Sixers game with my 10-year-old godson. That's not the beginning of a joke, though it probably could be.

So we're sitting there eating nachos and drinking beer (OK, I was drinking beer. He abstained; can't have my designated driver getting all banged up, you know?). He started looking around the largely empty arena, and a curious, confused look spread over his face. He studied the crowd for a while, then turned to me and asked a simple question with a complicated answer: "Where is everyone?"

It's equally tough to explain to a kid or an adult - or, in my case, an adult who invariably acts like a kid - how a once-proud franchise has devolved into . . . this. I generally wouldn't advise looking at the NBA standings if you consider yourself a Sixers fan, but it was necessary for the purpose of this column. The home boys are 17-31 at the moment, tying them for the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference and the sixth-worst in all of basketball.

It's a great frustration to Sixers fans, many of whom have attacked Ed Snider, Ed Stefanski, and Eddie Jordan and started calling them unflattering things like the Three Ed-ed Monster and The Ediots. Everyone agrees the players are culpable for playing less-than-inspired ball, but most of the criticism has been leveled at the Eds. But of those three gentlemen, who's the most responsible for the abject disaster known as your 76ers?

It's time to play the Blame Game and help you properly focus your ire. Page 2 is helpful that way. You're welcome.

Eddie Jordan: That Princeton offense is chock full of basketball goodness, isn't it? The Sixers' brass told us it would be the perfect fit for a team without a real point guard, that it would put these guys in the best position to excel as a team - and boy were they ever right. Jordan's system has been everything we hoped and more, and . . . what's that? The team ranks 24th in scoring and acts as if it would rather submit to a full cavity search by an undereducated TSA screener than play defense? Huh. Perhaps the organization overestimated Jordan's worth.

The Sixers have six guys scoring 14 points per game or more. On paper, that looks impressive. In reality, it isn't. You've heard about teams that are greater than the sum of their parts? Yeah, this is the opposite of that. The Sixers aren't loaded, but it's not as if they're wholly without talent, either. They've underachieved, and a good portion of that is on Jordan. Blame: 25 percent.

Ed Snider: It's tough. The Chairman has always been more of a hockey guy, but he ultimately delegates the day-to-day duties and trusts his president and GM to pick the right coach and players. Still, he picked Billy King, who signed Samuel Dalembert to a ridiculous extension, then fired King and replaced him with Ed Stefanski, who's made some boneheaded moves of his own.

On a positive note, those new uniforms are snazzy. We'll give Big Ed credit for those because we're feeling magnanimous. Blame: 30 percent.

Ed Stefanski: Forget about Allen Iverson, the draft, and the coach firings and hirings. The NBA is all about guessing correctly when you willfully tie yourself to a player. Stefanski re-signed Andre Iguodala to a huge deal, then went out and paid Elton Brand a hefty sum to be the post presence the team has lacked for so long. Iguodala has talent, and Brand has played better lately, but neither has been able to make the Sixers a serious contender in the East - or even an above-average team. When the best you can hope for is trading one of them for an expiring contract so you can start over and plan for the future, that's sad and troublesome. Stefanski is a local guy and a good dude, but, alas, that doesn't mean he's made the right decisions. Blame: 45 percent.

It's cold and the Super Bowl is just two days away. Must be time for fat men to gorge themselves at an obscene hour in front of 20,000 people. WIP's 18th annual Wing Bowl is today at the Wachovia Center. Unlike last year, my buddy Wax won't be participating. (He's always been a quitter.) I'll take the 10-1 odds on Pot Pie the Sailor to win the event. He had a good showing last year, and his crew is crazy . . . I had forgotten how entertaining but maddening Lost can be. It's the final season. We have to get some answers soon - don't we? . . . Harder photo to look at: the one of Brett Favre's nasty, swollen ankle or the one taken down in Miami this week of Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens laughing it up together at a Super Bowl party? . . . At long last, the demolition of Giants Stadium has begun. I'm sure Eagles fans are all broken up about that.

Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813 or gonzalez@phillynews.com.

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