The Sixers' New Ownership Has Gone Overboard on Fan Involvement

The Sixers' New Ownership Has Gone Overboard on Fan Involvement

Adam Aron YOUR OUR TWITTER GM: Name 1 or more current Sixers you believe MUST be on roster next year, 1 or 2 you'd trade and why... "KEEP: TRADE:"
Apr 18 via web Favorite Retweet Reply

You can say I'm overreacting, but I think this is a mistake.

It's one thing to poll fans on whether they'd like a Moose for a mascot or if they want back an epic warm-up song that the franchise will only barely use, because those are mostly meaningless decisions.

Fandom is by its nature a knee-jerk, emotional and rarely rational experience. If it involved being level-headed or measured, it would cease to be fandom, but rather, to an extent, objective analysis. See if you can tell the difference between these three sentiments:

-- Lou Williams sucks. He can't play defense. He takes too many shots. He sucks.
-- Lou Williams is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Play him 48 minutes a night.
-- Lou Williams is a change-of-pace reserve who is one of the best-undersized scorers in the league, but has very real limitations to his game at both ends of the floor.

The third sentence is a reasonably accurate depiction of Lou Williams of which Lou's teammates, coaches and basketball operations executives are all well-aware. So why do the Sixers need need to wade through reactions from fans of one extreme or the other to learn what they should already know?

Before I get too far into this, I'll state right here that I am fully on-board with Adam Aron and the new ownership's embrace of both the fans and social media. I like that they want us involved. I like that they care what we think. I like that they make us finally feel valued. And I really like that Aron himself took the time to comment on this website a few months back in response to our reaction to the team's new commercial campaign.

It's just that there's a difference between making the fans feel necessary and merely pandering.

And it's because I believe, or at least hope, Aron won't be taking these tweets seriously that this move feels like pandering.

To borrow from Asante Samuel, this isn't a fantasy league. The National Basketball Association exists under the most complex collective bargaining agreement in North American sports. Franchises are made or ruined for years by just a single move. Under the old ownership, this organization already wasted millions and much of the last decade trying to appease its fans  with poor financial and basketball decisions that were never leading to a championship.

I like to think of myself as a largely in-touch fan and yet I have no idea what kind trade exceptions the Sixers may or may not be holding onto. I don't know which teams are and aren't interested in Andre Iguodala nor, more importantly, what they would offer in return. And I don't have the first clue what free agents will or won't be available in the summer of 2014. These are all questions that are essential in discussing player movement, rather simply declaring "amnesty Brand now" without any consideration of how, why or when the team should do it just because a casua
l fan or season ticket holder is feeling frustrated.

Those who know do know the answers to the preceding questions are the basketball operations executives the Sixers are paying to chart to the long-term course of the franchise in order to win a championship. That's the goal -- win a championship. When those individuals put their brains and resources together to win a title, they won't have to worry about what the masses think, because the masses will be on board. Sixers fans want success, or as Doug Collins has been calling it to a lesser degree: "relevance." The twitter promotion was a nice change of a pace at the start and can still be a great wrinkle for this organization going forward, but it has reached its limits when it comes to roster dissection.

As counter-intuitive as it sounds, as much as the Sixers should care about making the fans happy, they shouldn't care about what those fans want on a Wednesday afternoon in the middle of a devastating losing streak. When they ask what the fans think about their roster, it isn't hip, catchy, or new-media savvy. It's insulting. There are people in the organization who spend everyday with the players, who live and breathe basketball, and who get to watch the college and pro game up-close every night either is in session. They're the talent evaluators. Not the fans. Unless the Sixers come across someone who was shouting from the South Philadelphia rooftops in 2010 that J.J. Barea would be a vital cog in a title team, they shouldn't listen.

So, sure, continue to ask us what we think of a new lighting scheme, insist on our thoughts about a moose for a mascot, and call our home phones to ask how to make better use of "1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Sixers." Those are the some of the best elements of a new fan-owner partnership.

But don't ask for your fans for advice on how to shape your basketball roster. Because it feels like pandering, and fans deserve better.

Eagles-Vikings Week 7: What they're saying

Eagles-Vikings Week 7: What they're saying

Riding a two-game losing streak, the Eagles (3-2) return home Sunday for the first time in nearly a month and welcome a familiar face to the confines of Lincoln Financial Field. 

Sam Bradford and the Vikings (5-0) will come to Philadelphia fresh off a Week 6 bye and, most notably, as the league's lone unbeaten team. Minnesota boasts one of the league's top defenses, ranking first in points allowed (12.6 per game) and second in yards allowed (287.6 per game), and is looking to improve to 6-0 for the first time since 2009.

The last time these two franchises met was back in December 2013, when Matt Cassell and the Vikings put up 48 points in a win over Chip Kelly's Eagles.

To get a better handle on this year's Vikings, here's what they're saying about the Eagles' Week 7 opponent.

Brian Robison poses yet another challenge for Big V
Making his NFL debut in a start against the Redskins last week, Halapoulivaati Vaitai struggled mightily. Ryan Kerrigan beat Vaitai and got to Carson Wentz for 2½ sacks, all of which came in the first half.

It won't get any easier for the rookie right tackle this week either, as he'll likely be lined up against Brian Robison for most of the afternoon. Robison has four sacks and two forced fumbles on the season and, according to Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune, the versatile 10-year defensive end could be difference maker on the defensive side of the ball Sunday.

"Whether his hand is in the turf at left end or he’s standing over a guard or center as the defensive tackle, Robison could be dropping back to cover a tight end or running back," Krammer wrote. "At the line, he’s given responsibilities to call stunts or twists depending on their own play call. Sometimes he’s setting the pick to free another teammate. ... And on Sunday against the Eagles and their rookie right tackle, keep an eye on Robison when he lines up at his traditional spot of left end. All four of his sacks this season, including two strip-sacks, have come from there."

Makeshift offensive line remains a question mark
The Vikings may be undefeated, but by no means are they made up of perfect parts. As the midway point of the NFL season approaches, Minnesota's injury-battered offensive line is still a work in progress. 

Starting tackles Matt Kalil and Andre Smith are both sidelined with season-ending injuries. Starting guard Brandon Fusco suffered a concussion Week 5 against the Texans, but is expected to return against the Eagles. Center is the only position on the line the Vikings haven't had to replace because of an injury at some point this season.

But despite the constant changes up front, Minnesota has been stout overall in protecting the quarterback, allowing eight sacks and 27 quarterback hits across five games. According to Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press, the performance of that makeshift offensive line is going to be key in the Vikings' potential success down the road. 

"What’s best for Bradford and the Vikings’ standing as the NFC’s top dog is better pass protection," Murphy wrote. "He was sacked twice when Houston defenders turnstiled Clemmings and hit hard in the pocket other times. ... Offensive line intrigue never is a sexy storyline, but how well the Vikings manage the unit week to week figures to be an underlying factor to their continued success."

Strong away from home
The Vikings are a just a few years removed from going winless on the road, finishing 0-7-1 away from home in the 2013 season. Minnesota secured wins in only two of its first 10 away games under the tutelage of Mike Zimmer, but have since gone on a tear.

Minnesota has won seven of its last eight road games dating back to last season and, in their most recent game away from U.S. Bank Stadium, the Vikings took down the Panthers, 22-10, in Week 3. A testament of a true contender is having the ability to win consistently on the road, which holds true with the Vikings.

According to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press, the Vikings' vast improvement over the past two-plus seasons has contributed to them becoming a stronger team away from home.

"Facing a tough opposing crowd once was a tall order for the Vikings, but it’s much less of one now. After being one of the worse road teams in the NFL earlier this decade, they’re now one of the best," Tomasson wrote. "Overall, the Vikings have improved, having gone from 7-9 in 2014 to 11-5 last season to 5-0 this year. That’s the main reason the road record has gotten so much better. Still, players say the continuity the team has had has especially helped when entering rugged road environments."

While Vegas has the Vikings as light favorites on the road, national experts have them heavily favored straight up to hand the Eagles their third straight loss.

ESPN: All nine experts picked the Vikings

CBS Sports: Seven of eight experts picked the Vikings

FOX Sports: Three of five experts picked the Vikings 

Flyers Skate Update: Ivan Provorov has a new partner

Flyers Skate Update: Ivan Provorov has a new partner

Ivan Provorov has a new partner.

Provorov will be paired with Brandon Manning on Saturday night against the Carolina Hurricanes, a changeup from the first four games of the season. Mark Streit drops to the third pair with Nick Schultz, a tandem that worked together most of last season.

"We're going to change them up," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said after the team's morning skate. "We're going to look at a couple of different things. Some of the combinations are some familiar ones, such as Streiter-Schultz. They played a lot of minutes together last year. It's a move that we want to take a look at."

The Provorov-Manning pair is an interesting one. It should allow the 19-year-old to activate more in the offensive zone with Manning playing positionally sound. Manning has played with an extra edge thus far, showcasing a far more aggressive brand of hockey than he's shown previously with the orange and black.

With Streit, an offensive-minded blueliner, Provorov had to cover for his partner. Provorov also ran into some tough luck situations, too. Now with Manning, Provorov has the handcuffs off a little bit. Manning plays well positionally and while he has been more aggressive, he knows when to stay back, which will help Provorov.

It's another adjustment for the rookie. Through four games, he said, there haven't been any surprises in terms of his expectations for how the NHL game plays.

"I think what I expected is what I got," Provorov said. "It's the best league in the world, you expect all four lines to be great, you expect fast pace, physical game and that's what I got. I'm still learning, but I'm trying to do better as the games go on."

Provorov has one assist this season and enters Saturday as a minus-5, largely because of the Chicago game Tuesday. Hakstol praised Provorov's maturity level and ability to self-evaluate. What he hasn't done with Provorov is talk about numbers.

"There are some meaning in stats and we take the meaningful areas and apply those," Hakstol said. "But I haven't talked to any of the young guys about their statistics. We're four games in. I don't make too much of statistics right now. We're evaluating day-to-day play and looking at areas that we can use as strengths and areas individually we can improve."

Starting slow
If there has been one common theme through the first four games, it's the Flyers' poor starts. In first periods this season, they've been outscored, 6-1 (see game notes).

On Thursday night, the Flyers again came out of the gates slow. It was their first game back after a season-opening road trip out West, which Jakub Voracek said was a factor.

Voracek, who has four assists, said the burden falls on the individual player to focus on the small details and avoid committing mistakes.

"As a player, if you don't have that extra step, you just have to keep it simple," he said. "It's going to come around. The first 10 minutes, you have to make sure you don't make mistakes and I think that we were trying to do too much if we weren't feeling right. It showed last game against Anaheim. We were a half-a-step slower."

Four games isn't a large enough sample size for Hakstol to make a definite statement on the Flyers' first-period woes. The second-year coach said he'll have a better understanding where his team is at after the Carolina game.

"I think we'll answer that question after the start tonight," Hakstol said. "I think we'll get a fair evaluation of our starts after our start tonight, and if we have a problem, we'll know it after tonight. If we don't, we'll know that as well.

"Pretty clear, crystal clear, black and white in my mind. Tonight should tell else what type of team we are at the start of the hockey game."

Projected Flyers Lineup
F: Brayden Schenn-Claude Giroux-Wayne Simmonds

Travis Konecny-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek

Nick Cousins-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Matt Read

Chris VandeVelde-Boyd Gordon-Roman Lyubimov

D: Andrew MacDonald-Shayne Gostisbehere

Ivan Provorov-Brandon Manning

Nick Schultz-Mark Streit

G: Steve Mason