Thursday night, the Philadelphia 76ers held an event for the fans at the Wells Fargo Center to try to encourage excitement one last time before the NBA draft on June 26th. Sixers radio voice announcer Tom McGinnis held an on court interview in front of a few hundred fans with Sixers head coach Brett Brown. Before the two graced the court the Sixers allowed fans and to purchase season tickets and take tours along the locker rooms and a game of “knockout” broke out on the court. It was surely a sight to see as the Sixers PR department made one last-ditch effort to make a push for the Sixers to be back on the tips of people’s’ tongues.
The interview itself opened up Tom asking Brett Brown how he felt about the team and where it was headed this upcoming season. Brett Brown addressed the fans and gave an overall assessment and said that,”When you watch the local news and you listen to what they’re saying about the Sixers, all you hear is state of the art practice facility and the draft and the future. The future is bright for this team, you know, a rookie of the year in Carter-Willams and a healthy Nerlens Noel.” Fans applauded when Brown said that it took his breath away at the fact that so many people came out and showed support for an event of a non-playoff team in early June. It showed deeply because there were plenty of whispers of sales reps saying congratulations to fans who were now season ticket holders. According to my own sales rep, the Sixers have sold 1,400 new season ticket accounts not including the couple dozen that were sold that night. It seems the Sixers are doing something right and at least some fans are starting to take notice.
As the night drew on Brett Brown continued by saying that the fact they the Sixers are building a state of the art training facility so late is actually a “blessing in disguise.” The Sixers are the very last team to have a grand training facility but according to coach Brown,” We can learn from all the other teams mistakes and build something that can reel in future players and draft picks and help us implement a system of winning in the city.” He also said our system we are putting in play is very deep and detailed. “It’s about our development ability. I must have the right staff. We have navy seals come in and build leadership.” From meal plans and navy seals, the development staff is thinking outside the box when getting the most out of these young players on the team.
For example, he used Hollis Thompson a player this Sixers acquired last off-season and played really strong at times. After not being selected in the 2013 NBA draft he was picked up out of the D-League and started 41 games for the Sixers. He quietly lead all rookies in 3 point field goal percentage and scored a career high 18 points in a 101-15 lost to the Brooklyn Nets where he was locked in hitting six three-point shots. “Hollis is interesting, he came way out of left field but received a couple of rookie second team votes. Since the end of the season he has gained 10lbs of muscle and really looks phenomenal. It’s about building up to what you want to be,” said Brown.
When he was asked about the upcoming draft, which to be honest, was the main reason most people were in attendance, coach Brown openly expressed that he was extremely excited and that he trust Sam Hinkie’s judgements in acquiring the best player available. “We will experience more pain but they’re our children. We are raising our own children.” Basically he was suggesting that there is still plenty of hard work to still be completed and the staff still has a long road ahead.
The team has seven draft picks in the upcoming draft in which Hinkie will used to gain multiple assets for his team. The 3rd and 10th pick along with five second-round picks will be showcased when the team takes the floor for both the Orlando and Las Vegas Summer Leagues. “We gotta get this right! I’m amped about getting us to where we need to be” said Brett Brown. The 76ers are having an unprecedented 76 draft parties spread over three states. Why not have one big party you ask? The Sixers find it more effective to bring the party to the fans and that is just what they’re doing.
Lastly, Tom McGinnis brought up the topic of the playoffs and asked if the Sixers are taking notice especially since San Antonio is in the finals for the fifth time under coach Gregg Popovich. Brett Brown, who was in San Antonio to take part in four of those titles said team has been watching the post-season very closely. “Warriors are playing this time of year. The look in their eyes and the emotion on their faces.” The Sixers have missed the post-season the past three years. The 76ers haven’t been in the playoffs since the epic Game 6 victory over the one-seeded Chicago Bulls, that left us with memories of Andre Iguodala sinking two free-throws to send the crowd into a frenzy, and the team to a second round match-up with the Boston Celtics. Those days are long gone and the franchise is filled with empathy and a below average attendance rate. Brett Brown is confident the Sixers are taking the necessary steps to build a winning franchise and bring another parade down Broad Street.
A night filled with questions and optimism turned out great for the the fans of Sixers basketball. It’s no secret to anyone that general manager Sam Hinkie is something of a mad scientist when making choices. Rising season ticket holders, a Rookie of the Year ready for an encore and a major force yet to be seen in Nerlens Noel, the Sixers are due to be in the next wave of great teams and with the possibility of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid in a Sixers uniform next season it is exciting and yet satisfying to know that team finally has a plan in place to exude greatness in the long run.