Sign LeBron? Philly sports history shows final piece is needed

Sign LeBron? Philly sports history shows final piece is needed

Tonight, the 76ers play against LeBron James and the Cavaliers in Cleveland, and the chatter has ramped up again: Will LeBron sign with Philly this summer?

At first, I thought it was just a few dissenters on social media who were against the possibility. Then I watched Philly Sports Talk earlier this week, where they ran a real-time poll asking viewers if they want LeBron to sign here ... and 47 percent of the votes came back no.

My response to the 47 percent: Why do you hate fun?

From the opposers with whom I've discussed this, the response is that it flies in the face of The Process, that it would no longer be as organic as they believe former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie intended. 

Full disclosure: I was never a fan of The Process — the fandom equivalent of walking on Legos for a half-decade for a chance at a chance at a chance at a title. Putting that aside, let's take a walk back through Philadelphia sports history.

December 1978
The Phillies had just won their third straight NL East title and their third straight time getting bounced in the NLCS. They signed 12-time All-Star Pete Rose to the biggest contract in baseball. Twenty-two months later, they had a parade. Everyone was happy.

September 1982
The Sixers had just lost in the NBA Finals for the second time in three seasons. They signed regining NBA MVP Moses Malone to a six-year deal. Nine months later, they had a parade. Everyone was happy.

Two months ago
The Eagles won the NFC Championship Game with a 38-7 dismantling of the Minnesota Vikings. All 38 points were scored by players who were acquired within the previous year.

To Eagles fans who don't want LeBron on the 76ers: Are you upset that the Eagles won a Super Bowl without a Process?

Whether you trust The Process or not, we all want the same thing, for our favorite NBA team to win it all. Why does it matter so much how it happens?

This team has won one playoff series in 16 seasons. They've been to the Finals once in their last 35 seasons. No idea should be turned away that would give the Sixers a better chance at a title.

In my opinion, The Process was about being opportunistic. Use your cap space and assets to acquire the best players available to get you to a title. Signing the best all-around player in the NBA, one of the top-10 players to ever lace up high tops, feels like something Sam Hinkie would do, without giving it a second thought. Hinkie's mentor, Rockets GM Daryl Morey, made a similar move six years ago. He created the cap space, assembled the assets and traded for reigning Sixth Man of the Year James Harden.

So if the Sixers do sign LeBron and end up winning the NBA title, come on down to Broad Street. It's gonna be one helluva party.

These players could come 'out of left field' for Sixers

These players could come 'out of left field' for Sixers

Brett Brown’s witnessed many playoff battles during his days as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs.

That’s when the stars shine brightest in an attempt to help their team hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy. It’s also when role players get an opportunity to change the course of a series and leave an imprint that lasts a lifetime.

Think Kenny Smith’s seven three-pointers in Game 1 of the 1995 NBA Finals, Steve Kerr’s series-sealing jumper in Game 6 of the 1997 NBA Finals and Robert Horry in, well, too many games to count.

“Every one of my years with San Antonio, 12 of them, somebody came out of left field in one of the games for six minutes, maybe more, and had a significant impact on a win,” Brown said last week.

Sure, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are going to do the heavy lifting. But the real question is who else will make a significant contribution during those crucial postseason moments?

Robert Covington is certainly not planning to shy away from the big stage.

After three months of sliding production, the swingman has regained his shooting form at just the right time as the Sixers appear headed for their first postseason berth since 2011-12. Covington is shooting 47.3 percent from the field and 42.4 percent from three-point range with an offensive rating of 128 in March.

“My teammates have been pretty much finding me the same shots, but I just changed up a little bit of my workout, switched it up,” Covington said after scoring 18 points (6 for 12 shooting) in the Sixers’ 108-94 win over the Hornets on Monday. “That’s what allowed me to get where I’m at now. My teammates have been finding me open spots. We’ve been moving the ball really well.

“That’s just doing the right things and waiting on that moment.”

Marco Belinelli knows all about seizing that moment. He’s played — and played very well at times — over the course of 48 career playoff games.

The Sixers got a taste against the Hornets of just how much of a boost Belinelli can give a team when he’s on target. The 10-year veteran scored 21 points off the bench and contributed five of the Sixers’ 18 threes as he sharpens his game for the major challenge on the horizon.

“It’s huge,” Simmons said of finding shooters such as Belinelli and Covington in addition to JJ Redick in close games. “It’s just the way we’ve been playing all year.”

With Justin Anderson now back in the rotation and contributing, it could be the performance of secondary guys that keep the Sixers playing longer than anyone expected before the season started.

Ben Simmons shrugs off mental fatigue with another triple-double

Ben Simmons shrugs off mental fatigue with another triple-double


Around 6 p.m., Ben Simmons spoke about mental fatigue and the frustrations it can cause. 

An hour later, he hit the court and posted an 11-point, 12-rebound, 15-assist triple-double … with zero turnovers.

“I wish he was more mentally fatigued in the future,” Brett Brown said with a laugh. 

The 21-year-old rookie may be feeling the weight of his first NBA season, but he certainly didn’t show it Monday in the Sixers’ 108-94 win over the Hornets (see observations)

Simmons recorded his third triple-double in the last four games. He exhibited disciplined court vision by finding his teammates with a high level of ease and chemistry that’s been developing over the season (see highlights).

“I was trusting them to knock down shots,” Simmons simply put it. “They make it easy for me.”

Simmons became the first rookie in the NBA to record a triple-double with 15 assists and no turnovers. Only David Robinson and Andre Iguodala had reached a triple-double without an error as rookies. 

Simmons considers his assists and turnovers to be the most meaningful stats of the triple-double, noting his turnovers usually are caused by mental errors. 

"That’s amazing," Joel Embiid said. "To be able to make the right reads and not turn the ball over, there’s a few guys in the league that can do that ... that just shows you that he can be a great point guard."

The 6-foot-10 point guard is averaging 16.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game over 34 minutes. With each game that passes, Simmons continues to be linked with the feats of Hall of Famers. From joining in the same company as Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson to moving ahead of Allen Iverson for most 10-assist games by a Sixers rookie, his performances are often tied back to historical markers. 

“I think people get caught up in how many points I score every game,” Simmons said. “It’s not about that. It’s a matter of points that we’re getting as a team and how many stops we get … 

"People are always going to say I need to do certain things but I know what I’m capable of and I know what I’m really good at.”