Sixers' collapse part of a grand plan

During the Sixers' loss Monday to the Milwaukee Bucks - the second-worst team in the league crushed by the worst - some of the fans at the Wells Fargo Center found better things to do than watch the game.
During the Sixers' loss Monday to the Milwaukee Bucks - the second-worst team in the league crushed by the worst - some of the fans at the Wells Fargo Center found better things to do than watch the game. (RON CORTES / Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 27, 2014

Name one Philadelphia 76er.

Just one. Come on.

Iverson doesn't count. Nor Barkley or Erving, and certainly not Wilt.

Name one Sixer who was in uniform Tuesday night against the Orlando Magic.

Now, this gets much, much harder.

Name two!

If you can name the starting lineup, all five, without looking it up, maybe the team owners should consider buying you a ticket on Stubhub - for $6.40.

That was the cost of one upper-deck ticket Tuesday.

The 15-42 Sixers lost miserably Monday night to the  11-43 Milwaukee Bucks at the Wells Fargo Center. Second-worst team in the league crushed by the worst.

The Sixers were down by 29 points at halftime. One fan in the front row fell asleep, an image captured by The Inquirer's Ron Cortes.

At halftime, TV reporter Molly Sullivan interviewed Sixers coach Brett Brown.

Said Sullivan: "What do you emphasize here on defense?"

Brown responded: "To play it."

John Angelucci, 82, of Norristown, was there Monday night with son Mike, 48.

"No matter what they do, it turns out bad," said the father.

"But we keep coming back," said the son.

The father, wearing an Eagles jacket and Phillies hat, is accustomed to disappointment and defeat as a lifelong Philadelphia sports fan. But he expressed compassion more than anger Monday night.

"I feel embarrassed for them," he said.

Monday's announced attendance was 12,216. The team averages only 13,478, one bad game away from being lowest in the league. And Orlando, Wednesday's opponent, is 17-41, third worst in basketball.

But this collapse is all part of the plan.

You see, the Sixers are tanking this year in hope of rebuilding the next.

"We've been very transparent and open and candid with what the plan is," said Tim McDermott, head of marketing for the Sixers.

Last week, the struggling team traded away two more top players, Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes, to get two potential top picks and two second-round draft choices, and have money to spend on quality free agents.

The Sixers are counting on Rookie of the Year candidate Michael Carter-Williams, the marquee player they didn't trade, as a centerpiece of teams to come. He is one player whom casual fans can name.

"For the most part," McDermott said, "the fans really believe in what we're doing. It's bold and aggressive, and I think the fans have responded."

He said that website traffic was up 73 percent over the same week a year ago and that social-media traffic was up 344 percent.

"If we can get this right," he said, "if we can build this the right way, this will be a phenomenal place to be. I think our fans really understand that."

John and Mike Angelucci like the trade.

"Start from scratch," said the father. "They tried everything else."

But others have no faith that the Sixers will get it right.

"The trades were terrible," said David Wright, 52, of Crum Lynne, there with godson Jaden Howard, 13. "Every time they get a group of young players that finally click together, two or three years later, they're gone. They trade them off."

Wright noted that the Sixers also traded away all-star Jrue Holiday last year and Andre Iguodala in 2012.

"Same thing over and over again," he said. "History repeats itself. It's terrible." Who comes to a terrible game?

Sameera Gunter, 29, of Philadelphia, came with her sons, 5 and 7, and her sister, as part of a fund-raiser for her niece's school, New Media Technology Charter.

Could she name a single player?

"Ah, not really," she said. "Maybe as of a couple years ago, Allen Iverson and Aaron McKie."

The arena will sell out Saturday when Iverson returns and his retired jersey is hoisted into the rafters at halftime.

Domenick Candelieri, 24, of Pennsauken, along with his brother and two friends, bought $15 tickets Monday night that included a photo opportunity on the court after the game.

So they had to stay to the end.

But they did get a nice photo.

"The only reason I bought the tickets was for the photo op," said Candelieri. "Also, I bought the tickets before the trade deadline, so I didn't know all of our star players would be gone.

"The blowout is both good and bad," he added. "Good, giving us a better pick in the draft. But bad for the people who paid to watch good basketball."

No commentator could have summarized it better.


215-854-5639 @michaelvitez mvitez@phillynews.com

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