The Philadelphia 76ers wouldn’t ever leave Philadelphia, would they?
It seems crazy to think that the 76ers, who have called Philadelphia home since 1963, would ever go anywhere considering the storied history the team has in the city.
But if recent reports from CSN Philly are of any indication, the head owner of the Sixers’ management group, Joshua Harris, is considering making a bid to buy the New Jersey Devils, who the NHL is set to take over ownership of since the franchise has declared bankruptcy. The report goes on to mention that the Devils are just one of three sports franchises that Harris’ group is contemplating purchasing.
Even though the Sixers’ lengthy lease with the Wells Fargo Center is likely going to prevent the team from moving anytime soon, that hasn’t stopped the speculation that Harris’ ultimate goal is to move the team to New Jersey to have them play alongside the Devils in the Prudential Center.
Under normal circumstances, it would be easy to toss this rumor aside as nothing more than just that. But considering the state of the team, this recent report is not something that can just be filed away.
So lets start with the obvious: New Jersey.
Just like Seattle when they lost the Supersonics, New Jersey has been hurting ever since the Nets moved to Brooklyn. Since joining the NBA from the ABA in 1976, the Nets made their home in New Jersey. The Nets played in the Prudential Center for two years before the move, as it supported both basketball and hockey.
The Sixers could pick up right where the Nets left off. It might be strange to think about it in principal, but this wouldn’t be the first time Philadelphia and New Jersey were connected through basketball. It was actually back when the Nets first joined the NBA that the Sixers offered to pay them $3 million for the rights to one Julius Erving‘s contract so New Jersey could pay its league entrance fee.
Seven years and one championship-winning season later, it seems pretty obvious how that worked out for the Sixers. So in considering a move, the most important factor of where the team will play is already taken care of. The issue of finding a place that would love to get a basketball team back is also taken care of.
Now to examine some of the other particulars.
If you remember the movie Major League, the owner of the Cleveland Indians purposely tanked the team so that she could move the franchise to Miami. She ensured that budgets were cut and that it was almost impossible to field a team of good players. In the end, because it is a movie, the Indians made the playoffs and she couldn’t sell the team, but you get the point.
It kind of seems a little similar to what is going on in Philadelphia right now, doesn’t it?
The Sixers still don’t have a coach just under three months before the start of the NBA season. I cannot emphasize how important this is, so I’ll let Charles Barkley do it for me.
“I think that’s one of the silliest things that I’ve seen in sports in a long time,” Barkley said in an interview with Michael Barkann. He added that with summer league games going on and the new players that were brought in, it “is a joke” this team doesn’t have a coach yet.
People are joking that the Sixers are taking this whole “Andrew Wiggins Sweepstakes” thing a little too seriously, but unless they are trying to tank the season, there is no reason not to have a coach by now.
And in talking about tanking, one has to look no further than the 2013 roster to see that as a legitimate possibility. The roster is filled with young players, which is a good sign for the future, but there are also a fair share of question marks starting with Royce White, a guy who has an anxiety disorder that makes him unable to fly.
There are a lot of question marks about this team going forward, not the least of which might now be this: at the end of the lease with Wells Fargo, considering declining ticket sales and a passive fan base, what is keeping the Sixers in Philadelphia?