Friday, 13 April 2012
STAKES OF PHILADELPHIA
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
There's more at stake in Philly right now than cheese. If you walk the streets of Philadelphia like Bruce Springsteen you'll see plenty of great things in the city of brotherly love. From the classic city hall, to the iconic Liberty Bell this historical city is full of landmarks, all whilst having a beautiful, friendly small town feel. There's even a statue of Sylvester Stallone and the epic 'Rocky' steps he ran up. That's not the only thing ascending in the Philadelphia, where the Fresh Prince was born and raised...and its the hardwood not the playground where these climbers are spending most of their days. Basketball is the roots of Philly like Questlove and the rest of Jimmy Fallon's 'Late Night' house band and in the middle of the epic South Philadelphia sports complex that houses an electric hotbed of stadiums, including the homes of the Phillies and the Flyers is the Wells Fargo Centre, the home of the Philadelphia 76ers.
In this epic arena of sport coliseums, the Sixers once again are drawing attention like the vivid view from the stadium of downtown Philly in the distance. The legendary legacy of the Philadelphia 76ers makes this team almost as storied in this history of the National Basketball Association like the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks. From Wilt Chamberlains 100 point game 50 years ago to Moses Malone parting defenders in the paint before the deliverance of his second namesake (the mailman known as Karl), this city has sent this heavenly game of hoops some of its greatest Titans. From Hal Greer to Billy Cunningham, Bobby Jones to Maurice Cheeks. The revolutionary, game and league changing dunks of the good Doctor, Julius Erving to the mound of rebounding talent that is the unique and unorthodox Charles Barkley and many more has helped the state of Pennsylvania see some scary basketball talent.
Still this city hasn't seen victory for a long time. They haven't come close for over a decade now. 2001 almost saw them taste champagne, but despite their best efforts it was Shaq and his Lakers who where bouncing round in a shower of Champagne singing DMX's 'Party Up' up in the visitors locker room in Philly's house. It made the home crowd lose their minds. They where so close, but so far. While bottles where being sipped a door away, the home lockers where just left with a bitter taste in their mouths.
Despite this generations Philly legend Allen Iverson and all his crossover, culture, game and mainstream changing play and little man with the biggest heart syndrome the team came up short. Even when Allen Iverson answered the call and returned to redemption to revolutionise this team a few 82's back, his kiss of the logo on the hardwood floor was more of a kiss goodbye to this incredible partnership rather than a second coming. Just like the Pointer Sisters it was a shame, but just like hometown girl Jill Scott for Michael Jordan its all love. Now after rebounding from all the troubles like Barkley this streaking team is rolling with the punches like Rocky Balboa. Right now they may not be in the Academy of contenders but these playoff seeds are most definitely in the hunt, looking to win in Philadelphia like Tom Hanks in 1993.
'Passionate, Intense, Proud' reads the rally towel intense motto as basketball is looking for Philadelphia freedom from the freeways to the open lanes dominated by Andre Igudola's dynamic dunks. There really is a spectrum of players here led by the underrate All-Star and new A.I. and answer of Igudola. He leads an all studded unit of players perfect for their roles. Not convinced? How about Elton Brand? One of the leagues best and most underrated big men for over a decade. Quietly going about his job as deadly as an assassin like Tim Duncan but with more weight in the paint, he is the big man that pivots this small ball club.
Then there's the young, big three of Thaddeus Young, Jrue Holiday and Louis Williams running the floor and the future of this history rich franchise. They all look like they're barely out of college but routinely take the veterans of this league to school on a night in, night out basis. Add like named talents like Sam Young, valuable veterans like the well travelled journeyman Tony Battie and developing names like Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner and Jodie Meeks than you really have a ballclub. One that can rotate and still be great all while running up the Atlantic as high as their geographical location. From a great, tried and tested Head Coach in Doug Collins to a Mark Cuban esque CEO in Adam Aron who's taken everything from personal e-mails to back pages of SLAM out to show personally how much he cares for this team. How can one of the best defensive teams in the L not be in everyone's consideration.
Sure not much is beating Miami in the East, unless its more experienced teams like Boston...and as for the West and the rest, nothing looks to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder as they look to storm their way to the gold of early July. Still with this unit and youthful movement out in Sixer territory you may just be looking at the future of the league, which right now is already appearing great, present and correct. Soon it may always be sunny in Philadelphia, with a chance (albeit an outside one) of overcoming the Heat and Thunder. Sure that may be a forecast that we may not see for seasons, but believe that the tide and times of this league are changing. Until then why not enjoy some great Basketball in the city of brotherly love, where this family-tight squad of gallant 76ers with all respect are showing plenty of heart.