10 years of memories: Why ‘The Process’ will always be worth it

(Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Faced with the possibility that both Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris might sign elsewhere in free agency, some are questioning whether ‘The Process’ was worth it. In honor of Memorial Day weekend, I am going to reminisce on the most vivid memories of my Philadelphia 76ers fandom to explain why the lean years will always have been worth whatever is to come.

A sharp pain hit. I stopped and looked back at my right foot. The blood had already started dripping from my pinky toe. I caught my toe on a blanket on my parents’ bed and ripped the nail clean off as I jumped from the bed. The blood had begun to gush a bit as I walked to the bathroom to get band-aids. My mom walked into the bedroom after putting our dogs in their cages for the night and saw me sitting on the floor in the bathroom. She told me to go lie on the bed and calm myself down, as it was nearly 9:30 and time to unwind for the night.

I was not much of a sports fan at 12 years old; I fell in love with the Phillies just a few months before when they went on their magical World Series run in 2008. Other than that, I was just a gamer. I liked the Phillies, but I liked video games even more. As I laid next to my dad, trying to settle down for the night, I began to take in the game that was on television.

The Philadelphia 76ers were playing the Washington Wizards. Andre Iguodala‘s play on both ends of the floor was hypnotic. He threw a thunderous dunk down late in the game. The Sixers won 106-98 to improve to 28-28 on the season. I had been to games in the past and had watched on cable, but was never mesmerized. On that particular night, for whatever reason, a love was born.

Nine games later, Iguodala stared Trevor Ariza in the face as he walked him down into a three-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Lakers at the Staples Center. I have watched that shot over and over again. That shot will always be the foundation of my obsession. That was David beating Goliath. From that shot, a shot that improved the Sixers to 34-31 on the season, the team went just 7-10. They won game 82, beating the Cavaliers 111-110 in overtime at The Q to earn the six-seed (and, thus, avoid the two-seed Celtics and one-seed Cavs).

“They spread the floor for Iguodala against Turkoglu. Andre Iguodala! For the lead! Yes! Oh yes! Andre Iguodala has done it again! 2.2 to go, the Sixers lead by a bucket!” Marc Zumoff was preparing to launch himself onto the court as Iguodala rose up for that go-ahead step-back jumper over Hedo Turkoglu in Game 1. The Sixers lost to the Magic four times that season. They trailed by as many as 18 points in that Game 1 in Orlando.

The Sixers overcame the dominance of Dwight Howard and the three-point-happy Magic to steal that Game 1. They would steal Game 3, too, as Thaddeus Young was able to find the glass for a tough finish under the rim over the looming Dwight Howard. After that, however, it was all Magic. The Sixers simply did not have the arsenal to beat the Magic four times. Orlando would win Game 4, albeit at the hands of Hedo Turkoglu‘s game-winning three-pointer over Young’s outstretched hand with less than one second left.

With the series tied 2-2, the Magic would seize control with a nine-point victory in Game 5. Dwight Howard would be suspended one game for flagrant play after breaking the nose of Courtney Lee, his own teammate, with an inadvertent elbow in Game 5. Even without Howard, the Magic blitzed the Sixers in Game 6, winning 114-89 to close out the series in front of a shocked Wachovia Center crowd. I sobbed on a wall next to my stairwell as my mom tried to get me excited for the next season. We never could have foreseen the train wreck that was to come next season.