FanSince09's Lunch with Sixers CEO Adam Aron: A Troll's Remorse

FanSince09's Lunch with Sixers CEO Adam Aron: A Troll's Remorse

Special guest post by FanSince09

Back in February,  I decided I was fed up with Sixers CEO Adam Aron on Twitter, and launched into what would forever be known as "The Rant." (*) Angry Sixers fans praised me, the lamestream Sixers apologist media rushed to try to shoot holes in my arguments, but one thing was made clear by everyone: Adam Aron couldn't just ignore me. But for days, it seemed like he'd be content with just ignoring the issue.  There was no direct response to me,  even after another assault known as The Rant 2. (**)

(*) nobody calls it this
(**) nobody called it this

Fast forward to March 2nd. I was in Vegas fighting with a certain hotel's sports book because they wouldn't let me bet on how many games Hammels would lose in 2013 (***), when I got a very special twitter notification: @SixersCEOAdam is now following you. Within minutes, I got the DM: "You say you care about the Sixers. Why don't you join me for lunch one day in the next week or two and we can talk about your views in person"

(***) "All of them" is the safe bet

A few thoughts immediately raced through my mind. Is it a trap? Is a Philly sports team going to have me whacked? Then the trolls remorse set in. I was pretty vicious, I may have even legitimately hurt this guy's feelings. This sat heavily on my mind for the duration of my trip. Do I take him up on this offer? Do I break bread with a guy who I spent days viciously tearing apart? But then I realized that all of my doubts were stupid. You can't say no to a free lunch.

The meeting was set, and would go down in history as "The Summit."  For the first time, a Philly sports team was willing to sit down with the man who had established himself as the true voice of the fan base   I couldn't risk meeting Aron at the WFC, because that was his home turf.  In fact, I heard that they had one of those old style toilets like in the Godfather.   The meeting had to be on neutral ground, and I had just the place in mind.  

On March 20th, I found myself sitting on the 101 in Los Angeles in the worst traffic I'd ever experienced. Nobody had warned me that there was bad traffic in LA, and now here I was, late for my lunch with Adam Aron. Sure, this gave me some advantage. Adam was sweating,  would I show up? Was I an actual person? Was the entire Sixers fan base going to walk into the door? Was I just some a-hole who sucked at time management? (****)

(****) Yes

I walked into the restaurant 35 minutes late, but Adam was still there. Though he'd never seen a photo of me, he recognized me immediately. I was rocking my favorite ill shirt, along with my Mitchell and Ness Sixers throwback hoodie, and it was clear that stories of my swass preceded me. I greeted him formally.

"Sup, Ock?"

"You must be FanSince09."  

When getting a rich dude to buy you a free lunch, there are a lot of ways to play it.  You can order the most expensive thing on the menu, sure, but that's a rookie move. You could order the least expensive thing on the menu, or a salad, but then you risk insulting your host.  I had memorized the menu the night before. The moment I sat down, I ordered a turkey burger with sweet potato fries.  This was a pure power move that clearly impressed Adam. I was a man who knew exactly what he wanted. The turkey burger was awesome, too. Seasoned nicely without trying to make it taste like beef. The bun had the right amount of grill to it, and the sweet potato fries were crispy, but not too crispy. I completely housed that thing in about 10 minutes, washed down with a couple DCs. Totally satisfying lunch.

The end.

Oh right, the actual conversation. So anyway, for the next 45 minutes, we went over The Rant. Adam remembered all of it and then some. There was some refuting, some agreeing, some outright scolding. I learned a lot about Adam Aron. He knows what people are saying. He gets the anger and the frustration with the season. He claimed over and over that the goal was to build a winning team. We discussed the pros and cons of tanking, and he asked me what I'd do. I gave him all of my best ideas, and if the Sixers go on to build a championship team, you are welcome.

I didn't promise that I would change my tune or change my opinion, but what I did assure Adam is that ultimately, I wanted to see the Sixers build a winner. I wanted to see my fellow fans rally around the Sixers. The troll's remorse set back in. This guy reads every single tweet that is sent to him. He doesn't coordinate with the marketing department, he doesn't have a list of social media talking points, he's not working in tandem with the official Sixers social media team. This somewhat explains the disconnect there seems to be with the Sixers when it comes to social media, but it also made me realize how strange twitter can be. When you're not looking at someone face to face, you have a chance to go too far. I kept my rant based on basketball alone, but there are people who tweet at Adam every day with the worst personal attacks, threats and insults. When it's some "social media guru" running the account, they know it just comes with the territory and ignore it, but in the case of Adam Aron, he sees it all and takes it to heart (especially the threat from The Iron Sheik). If there was a lesson to be learned from all of this, it's to consider the target of future rants and realize that they do see it.

Our discussion continued all the way to the Staples Center, where Adam had secured some tickets to the Sixers-Clippers game for me. I told Adam what I expected from the Sixers that night: They would lose by less than 30. The Sixers went on to play like hot garbage while I located celebrities sitting court side -- Bruce Jenner looks like he drank from the wrong grail (*****) -- but sensing that I was in the stands, they were able to rally and only lose by 29.

(*****) Khloe looks less like Godzilla in person

Adam and I spoke again after the game, then parted ways. He said some things I agreed with, like the fact that there's no guarantee that tanking would help the team. He asked me if I really thought the fan base wanted to suffer through another 5 years of unwatchable basketball on the off chance that they would get the next Durant in the draft.  He also said some things I completely disagreed with, like Spencer Hawes being a somewhat OK basketball player. There was no epic changing of opinions, nobody's heart grew three sizes. While the team continues to stink, and the Sixers presence on Social Media continues to be an absolute disaster, I feel that Adam and I at least got a sense of where the other was coming from. He knew I'd continue to be the voice of are fanbase, while I knew he'd continue doing what he felt was best for the Sixers.

During the ride home, I thought about the night. Should I be easier on the Sixers? Should I be calmer on twitter? I don't know, and I still don't.

But one thing was completely obvious: that was an awesome turkey burger, and more teams need to buy me lunch.


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Ivan Provorov's 8-year-old brother is already really good at hockey

Ivan Provorov's 8-year-old brother is already really good at hockey

Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov made his NHL debut just four games ago, and while the 19-year-old is surely tackling a lot of new experiences, he has always had his younger brother, 8-year-old Vladimir, by his side.
Ivan was seen at practice today with his much younger, and eye-poppingly talented, brother working on his skills.

This is not the first time Vladimir has been seen on the ice with his older brother. Last season with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL, Vladimir showed off his puck-handling and shooting skills in a video posted to their Facebook page.

There’s nothing like family bonding and having an older sibling as a role model.

Meet the undefeated Vikings, the Eagles' Week 7 opponent

Meet the undefeated Vikings, the Eagles' Week 7 opponent

Who would've thought two months ago, after the grotesque injury to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, that the Vikings would be the last unbeaten team in the NFL? And who would've thought Sam Bradford would be leading Minnesota into Lincoln Financial Field to take on the Eagles?

Obviously, we're very familiar with Bradford after he helped guide the Eagles to a 7-9 record in 2015. The rest of the Vikings, maybe not so much. This is a team that quietly went 11-5 last season, and not so quietly were a missed 27-yard field goal away against the Seahawks from advancing to the divisional round of the playoffs.

For a team this good, the talent on the roster doesn't necessarily receive a ton of attention, particularly on what is arguably the toughest defense in the entire league. Time to rectify that and take a closer look at what the Vikings bring to the table.



Quarterback: Sam Bradford

As we've been saying around these parts for the past year and a half, if you put a team around Bradford, he can win. That's not exactly a glowing endorsement of the former No. 1 overall pick, although it is true. The Vikings offense may be ranked 30th, but Bradford has the highest completion rate in the NFL at 70.4 percent and is second in the league with a 109.7 passer rating. This isn't even a matter of him having great weapons either, although wide receiver Stefon Diggs and tight end Kyle Rudolph are pretty good. Behind a stellar defense, Bradford doesn't have to put the entire team on his shoulders, which explains why he hasn't thrown an interception and has only been sacked eight times in four games. Based on what we've seen of Carson Wentz and the return they got in the trade with the Vikings, it's hard to fault the Eagles for going in the direction they chose. Clearly Bradford can win though.

Strength: Efficiency

This might seem like another backhanded compliment, and to a large degree it is, because the Vikings' offense isn't very good. Yet to their credit, the unit has kept mistakes to an extreme minimum. The Vikings have committed one turnover this season, which is incredible when you think about it. The Eagles are the only other team with fewer than four giveaways, and the combined record of teams with no more than five is 39-18. It's a truly remarkable stat, and just goes to show if the defense can't create turnovers, the Vikings are going to be almost impossible to beat.

Weakness: Ground attack

The Vikings offense isn't particularly dynamic at any position or area, but the unit ranks dead last in the run. Even when Adrian Peterson was healthy, the seven-time Pro Bowler was averaging an anemic 1.6 yards per carry in two games this season. The combination of Jerrick McKinnon and Matt Asiata haven't fared a lot better, rushing 93 times for 273 yards — a 2.9 average — with three touchdowns. Injuries along the offensive line haven't helped matters, with starting tackles Matt Kalil and Andre Smith both landing on the reserve list already. Nonetheless, the Vikings have never quite figured out how to run the ball in 2016, which has been without a doubt this team's greatest shortcoming.



Strength: Pass defense

What came first, the chicken or the egg? It's nearly impossible to field a lockdown secondary without a great pass-rush, and what the defensive line lacks in name recognition, it certainly makes up for in production. Three Vikings players are tied for the clubhouse lead with 4.0 sacks, including Everson Griffen, who's heading for double digits for the third straight season. Only two teams have made more visits to the quarterback, so they are rock solid up front. Of course, only three teams have more interceptions than the Vikings, so they are equally as dangerous on the back end. Xavier Rhodes is quickly gaining a reputation as a shutdown coverman, creating opportunities for a group of corners that that includes Terence Newman (yes, the guy who played for the Cowboys eons ago) and 2015 first-round pick Trae Waynes. Then there are playmakers at linebacker and safety, too. Eric Kendricks, brother of Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks, has six pass breakups and a 77-yard interception return for touchdown, while Pro Bowl safety Harrison Smith does a bit of everything with 6.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, 12 interceptions and four pick-sixes in his fifth season.

Weakness: None

Having said all of that, it's not like the Vikings are weak against the run. Because they're so dangerous to throw against, opponents do tend to keep the ball on the ground. Minnesota has faced the second-most rushing attempts in the NFL, yet the unit is ranked fourth in yards (77.8 per game) and yards per carry (3.7) allowed. On almost any other team, that would probably be the strength of the defense. Here it's a complement.

X-factor: Danielle Hunter

We could spotlight any number of players on the Vikings defense, but somebody we haven't mentioned already would be Hunter, who is quickly becoming one of the NFL's bright young pass-rushers. The 2015 third-round pick is proving his rookie campaign with 6.0 sacks was no fluke, as he's tied for the team lead with 4.0 already this season. That's in a situational role by the way, not as a starter. Hunter is behind Griffen and Brian Robinson on the depth chart, but he makes the most of his opportunities. Any defense that is three deep on the edge is a defense that concerns quarterbacks, and thanks to a shrewd pick in last year's draft, the Vikings now boast just such an attack.



Everybody knows about Blair Walsh and the missed 27-yard field goal that prevented the Vikings from advancing in last year's playoffs. That's not indicative of Minnesota's special teams though. Cordarrelle Patterson is one of the most dangerous kick returners in football, while Marcus Sherels is gaining such a reputation on the punt return side as well with two touchdowns on the year. And after a shaky start to this season, Walsh has turned things around and is a fine kicker with plenty of leg, so there really isn't any weakness here either.



Mike Zimmer (third season, 23-15)

Enough can't be said for the job Zimmer has done with the Vikings, prior to this season and in 2016 especially. Any other team might've been in shambles after a season-ending injury to their quarterback, particularly of the freak variety Teddy Bridgewater suffered in training camp. Sure, the Bradford trade is helping keep things afloat, but much of the credit for the transformation that's happened in Minnesota falls on Zimmer's defense anyway. As we've seen in years past, most recently with the Broncos in February, a team doesn't necessarily need a prolific passer to win the Super Bowl. As unlikely as it may have seemed two months ago, the Vikings are legitimate contenders, and while they have some tremendous talent on both sides of the ball, which is a credit to their front office, Zimmer deserves a ton of credit for putting the pieces together.