No better time to be a Sixers fan

Joel Embiid, Danny Green, Tobias Harris, Sixers Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Joel Embiid, Danny Green, Tobias Harris, Sixers Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

This is a glorious time to be a Sixers fan.  Yes, I did watch that scalding vomit of a game against the Celtics.  That was a fluky “off night”, a bump in the road on the long highway that is the NBA season.  Everyone throws in a stinker here and there. Save your worries and hand wringing for anther time or place, because right now only rose-colored glasses are allowed. Time will tell if the addition of James Harden helps the team over the hump and brings a championship to the city.  But the next several weeks should be a time of jubilance and unbridled enthusiasm. Because for the next few weeks, anything can happen, and every argument can be made that the Sixers are as good as anyone in the NBA.

We will hear a lot of talk and conjecture over these next 2-3 weeks about how good this team can be and who the best teams are in the East.  But now all of those talks must include your Philadelphia 76ers.  That’s what adding a guy like James Harden can do.  Love him or hate him, he is capable of giving this team the creator it has been starving for ever since Joel Embiid came into the league.  If you are a fan of this team, this is no time to look back at what might have been or if this was the right trade or not.  The big move that we all have been waiting for has finally happened, and now you need to let caution fly to the wind and dare to dream big.

As a longtime fan, there have only been a handful of times that had the same feeling of excitement and possibility as there is around this Sixer team right now.  I wasn’t alive during the Championship season of 1966-67 but by all accounts that was one of the best teams ever assembled, so I can only imagine how rabid the fans here must have been then.  What followed that was a decade of putrid basketball that was every bit as godawful as the worst Process years.  Then they added Julius Erving, and the excitement was back.

After several nailbiting years of being thisclose to winning it all in the early 80’s, the Sixers realized they needed to push all of their chips into the middle and go for it, so they didn’t waste Dr. J’s prime years.  Adding Moses Malone to the 76ers in 1982 feels like it closely mirrors what we are seeing this year.  The Sixers now are adding another former MVP (and former Rocket) to their current superstar so that they don’t waste Embiid’s prime years.  That 1982-83 team was another all-time great unit and that fan base was justifiably wild about their Sixers.

The 76ers would not get to the finals again until the year 2001, when they were once again led by a beloved superstar in Allen Iverson, after making a trade deadline move to bring in All-Star center Dikembe Mutumbo.  Truthfully, as crazy as the fans were about watching Bubbachuck pinball around and score at will, the excitement was always tempered a little bit by the stark reality that the Lakers were clearly the best team in the league that year and barring an injury to Shaq or Kobe, there would probably be no parade down Broad Street.

Which brings us, twenty-one wild years of ups and downs later, to this current team.  The future of this team feels wide, wide open.  No matter what you think of Harden, the fact remains that he is a terrific fit next to Embiid, and the next year and a half should give them two great chances to bring home some rings.

The Sixers have a real path to the championship. It’s a special time for the franchise and the fanbase.

Think about all of the exciting things that are happening on this team right now.  Joel Embiid has finally become the complete, dominant monster that he always had the potential to be.  Tyrese Maxey looks like the future, a second year guard showing perhaps All-Star flashes.  Matisse Thybulle is another potential star and it’s hard not to dream about the possibility of his jumper someday being almost as good as his stellar defense. This may be getting a little ahead of myself, but what if James Harden goes the Chris Paul route and decides, late in his career, to devote a million dollars a year to massage therapists, physical therapists, personal chefs, nutritionists, and keeping his body in the best shape possible?  I know fitness is not what he is known for but by all accounts this is a man who is a life long gym rat, completely in love with the game of basketball.  He could enjoy the same basketball renaissance that Paul is having in Phoenix.

I understand that Philly fans are slow to give away their heart because we have had it broken so often.  We are a passionate, enthusiastic bunch, and we want so desperately to scream out and tell the world how good our team is, but we have been excited before, only to watch as our favorite teams are sent home over and over again.  It can make you numb. But you can’t give up on true love, it only has to happen once.  This team may or may not win it all, but right now they have as good a shot as anyone, and the league does not have any dominant teams. Dare to dream. Why not us, why not now?

If you are a fan, this is a time to cherish.  Watch every moment of every game.  Read all of the articles, have some fun arguments with co-workers around the water cooler.  Be all in, don’t hold back.  The most exciting times don’t come along every day.  1967. 1982. 2001. 2022.  These are the years that will be lovingly discussed for generations, with stories passed down from parents to their children.  This may be the most fun and exciting time ever to be a fan of the Philadelphia 76ers.  That strange, hard to name feeling that you have right now?  That’s hope.  Enjoy every moment of it.

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