Rest In Peace to The Process and Good Riddance! Or so they thought. Dozens’ gave eulogies and prematurely wrote the final chapter to a prophecy that is only reaching its climax.
“The Sixers should trade Joel Embiid’ said Scottie Pippen.
“s-o-f-capital T-T-T,” proclaimed Shaquille O’Neal.
“Embiid and Simmons aren’t a fit and Philly should just blow it up,” sums of most of the narratives.
As the 76ers hit a bump in the road, it’s no wonder why the vultures circled. But in order to fully understand the route a prophet has chosen to lay out for those who have chosen to follow him, you have to be willing to become invested. You have to buy in. Or as we like to say it around here, you have to Trust The Process.
Ain’t this what you been waiting for? You ready? This isn’t a Meek Mill story, but to say this timeline has had its fair share of dreams unfold and nightmares come true would be a complete understatement. Fans have endured heartbreak after heartbreak. Time after time, just when you thought there was a slimmer of hope and penultimate success was within grasp, it was snatched away.
Surely you haven’t forgotten the embarrassment felt as the Sixers finished with the third worst record in NBA history, the premature celebration where the confetti was dropped as the Sixers headed into overtime with the Celtics in the 2018 playoffs, or what you felt after that thing that shall not be mentioned that occurred in Toronto on May 12, 2019. The years of watching and knowing this team had no chance in close games because, of course somehow someway, Brett Brown would find a way to mess things up.
Of course, sometimes when you’re down you realize there’s only one way left to go: up.
You sit and think about what many consider to be the ‘dark days’ but remember the good times. Moments like in when Michael Carter-Williams put up a near triple double in his debut as he led the Sixers to a victory over the reigning NBA champion, Miami Heat in 2013. Or when the original processors pushed the eventual NBA Champions Golden State Warriors to the brink during their chase of immortality in 2016. As well as the enjoyment you felt when Joel Embiid windmilled a dunk in Game 3 against the Raptors and glided around the Wells Fargo Center with his arms outstretched.
Yet, it’s been 20 years in the making since the 76ers have accomplished the level of success they have this season (1st Seed).
And even back then everyone questioned how did the team even get to this point? Sure, they had the 6th man of the year in Aaron McKie, a defensive player of the year in Dikembe Mutombo, and the coach of the year in Larry Brown. But surely there was no way the injury depleted first seeded Philadelphia 76ers could make it to this point.
Yet for every question, there was an answer. But not just any answer, THE ANSWER! There has (arguably) never been another athlete to come through the city of Philadelphia, that has meant as much to the city as Allen Iverson.
He epitomized what it meant to put an entire city on your back and literally will them to the promised land. For the better part of a decade there was belief that this love for a player would never be matched again. There was no way that the question could have any other answer.
And when you have questions, in order to get to what you want to be known as the answers — you have to go through a sequence of trail and error. By definition, you’d be going through the process of experimenting with various methods of doing something until one finds the most effective method.
Even if that process means trading key pieces of the roster to acquire future assets that may or may not help put your team in a better position in the future.
Andre Iguodala, Jrue Holiday, Nerlens Noel, Michael Carter-Williams, Dario Šarić, Robert Covington, and so many more have played a prominent role in the Sixers reaching where they are today. But was it worth it, they ask?
Well when you
lose tank for such a long time, you tend to see otherworldly sequences such as a the team having a 47-199 record between the years 2013 and 2016 — a time that included TWO different losing streaks of 25 games.
Things can become a bit bleak. However, that feeling is sort of expunged when your one seeded 76ers are up in a home playoff game and Joel Embiid is at the free throw line in the midst of a vintage performance. The chants of MVP flow through the arena, until they don’t. Suddenly you hear a different tune coming from the crowd. Chants of “Trust the Process…..Trust the Process…..Trust the Process,” reverberate throughout the Center.
Suddenly you feel….Vindicated.
Not only did you witness the construction of a team that should certainly be viewed as contenders for an NBA championship this season.
But when you look at the roster: Two bonafide Superstar All-NBA caliber players in Embiid and Simmons, scoring minded wings in Tobias Harris and Seth Curry, high quality rotation players that have starter-level (and one of which who has first-team all defense) potential in Thybulle and Maxey, and a litany of high upside players who could become key rotational pieces down the line in Paul Reed, Rayjon Tucker, and Isaiah Joe — you begin to realize that the Sixers have assembled what could be considered the core of their roster in place for the foreseeable future.
This was arguably the entire purpose of the process: building a team that can maintain competitiveness and longevity.
And not just the regular mundane competitiveness of a perennial first/second round exit. A roster that can challenge for an championship consistently. And while Daryl Morey has inscribed his own chapter in one of the NBA’s most unconventional biographies, it’s a chapter that the prophet would be proud of.
Defeating the Washington Wizards in game one was a nice first step. And as the team embarks out on an expected lengthy journey in these 2021 playoffs, the hope is that the prophecy will be fulfilled at the end.
Featured image: Bill Streicher/USA Today