Philadelphia 76ers avoid making history on their own

Philadelphia 76ers avoid making history on their own
Philadelphia 76ers teammates (from left to right) Jarvis Varnado, James Nunnally, James Anderson and Elliot Williams walk off the court following a 120-98 loss to the Houston Rockets on Thursday. (Scott Halleran / Getty Images)

Among the many things the Philadelphia 76ers had lost since Evan Turner drove for a game-winning layup Jan. 29 against the Boston Celtics: Turner and hope.

All was not lost, however, amid the ensuing 26-game losing streak that spanned exactly two months, except maybe the 76ers' integrity.


They finally won again Saturday night, romping to a 123-98 victory over the Detroit Pistons, long after trading Turner and fellow starter Spencer Hawes in a move that spoke to their intent to lose at all costs.

The victory ensured the 76ers would not surpass the dubious mark of the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers, who dropped 26 consecutive games after owner Dan Gilbert made the regrettable vow to win a championship before the departed LeBron James.

Surprisingly, Philadelphia's notoriously harsh fans never hung a row of Ls inside the Wells Fargo Center as a sarcastic rebuttal to Phillies fanatics who use Ks to mark a pitcher's strikeouts.

Someone did start a Twitter account named @DidTheSixersWin, complete with a tank logo for its avatar. Each of its 15 tweets before Saturday since its creation last month reads read simply, "No." Then came a "Yes." with a link to a wrestler exulting with a title belt slung over his shoulder.

None of this is surprising, of course, for a franchise that has done everything to be as bad as possible.

The 76ers traded All-Star Jrue Holiday for an injured draft pick before the season and then further depleted their roster by unloading Turner, Hawes and Lavoy Allen, leaving behind a hodgepodge of Development League call-ups and 10-day-contract journeymen.

Their starters might as well be listed as Cromwell, Patton, Leopard, Panzer and M1 Abrams.

"It's those short-term, real pains for what we hope will be a bunch of long-term gains," Philadelphia Coach Brett Brown told reporters. "This period of time is not pleasant for any of us. But it's necessary."

Amazingly, the 76ers (16-57) can't even win for losing. Milwaukee (14-58) retains the worst record in the NBA, which would give the Bucks a league-high 25% chance of securing the No. 1 pick in the June draft.

Philadelphia isn't alone when it comes to being historically bad. The Bucks are on pace for the worst season in their 45-year history. The Lakers (24-48) haven't had a winning percentage this low since arriving in Los Angeles in 1960.

This actually isn't the worst season in 76ers' history. Not even close. They went 9-73 in 1972-73.

But that team didn't cause nearly as much consternation in the league office. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told reporters this week Philadelphia's epic struggles were "bad for everyone."

"It's potentially damaging to the players involved and the culture they're trying to create," Silver said, "but those decisions are left to management."

That's precisely the problem.


Ending the madness

Maybe Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive has devised the solution for tanking.

Ranadive told ESPN's True Hoop about what he calls "The V Plan," which comes in two parts.

Part one: Freeze the draft order at the All-Star break, giving teams no incentive to be bad the rest of the season.

Part two: The top seven teams in each conference make the playoffs, with the remaining teams entering a single-elimination, NCAA-style tournament to determine the final playoff team in the East and the West.

Call it April Absurdity?