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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.

*

Follow @FanSince09 on Twitter

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The Sixers may be mishandling Markelle Fultz’s injury

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AP Images

The Sixers may be mishandling Markelle Fultz’s injury

We don’t know much about the nature of the shoulder injury that’s bothering Sixers guard Markelle Fultz. We don’t know when he got hurt. We don’t know exactly what the injury is. We don’t know how long it will take to recover.

All we know is that whatever is wrong with Fultz’s shoulder, he can barely heave a free throw to the basket from 16 feet away. His shot has been so obviously altered, people assumed the Sixers had to be messing with the 19-year-old’s mechanics. And with his performance visibly affected, and his minutes limited during the preseason, the No. 1 choice in the 2017 NBA draft is set to begin the season on the bench.

That plan was announced to some controversy, as Fultz becomes one of a small handful — and, to this point, disappointing batch — of recent top overall picks who failed to open their rookie seasons as starters. Yet, lost in the hoopla over whether coming off the bench is an ominous sign for Fultz’s future is a far more practical question.

Should Fultz be playing at all?

Fultz appeared in only two exhibition games for the Sixers, and they weren’t pretty. He shot 2 for 13 from the field (0 for 3 from three) and scored four points against the Grizzlies, and scored 12 points off of 5 for 11 shooting from the field (no three-point attempts) against the Celtics. Numbers aside, Fultz’s shot looked flat and often came up short of the basket. He looked like a kid who’s playing hurt.

Naturally, team doctors are privy to a lot of medical information the general public is not — in this case, all of the information — but it’s difficult to watch Fultz struggle to hoist a basketball to the rim and not ask what good playing is doing him. And given the Sixers’ fiasco handling Joel Embiid’s torn meniscus last season, it’s certainly fair to wonder whether the organization has this latest situation under control.

Embiid wouldn’t undergo surgery for two months after the injury, initially classified as a bone bruise, and is beginning this season on a minutes restriction partially as a result. Seemingly in response to criticism over the debacle, the Sixers created the post of vice president of athlete care and tabbed Dr. C. Daniel Medina Leal for the position in September.

Apologies if that move didn’t immediately erase any concerns or skepticism.

Conversely, we’ve also seen this same organization practice extreme caution when dealing with injuries to Ben Simmons and Embiid. Simmons missed a full season, and Embiid missed two full years, both with foot injuries. The Sixers are still exercising more restraint than some would like with Embiid’s current restrictions. It’s been maddening at times, but simultaneously easy to see where they’re coming from.

So why not show a modicum of patience with Fultz and allow him to rest his injury? Granted, there’s generally far more risk involved with lower-body injuries, particularly those of the magnitude Embiid and Simmons were dealing with. But even if Fultz isn’t doing any more damage to his shoulder or slowing the healing process by playing, what exactly is the benefit to his working through this?

Sixers coach Brett Brown talked about the need to balance Fultz’s development with winning games. How much does the rookie’s presence on the hardwood help the Sixers accomplish either goal right now?

Fultz’s shot couldn’t possibly be as painful to watch as it is for him to take, and you can only imagine the toll that’s taking physically and mentally. Will it hurt his confidence? Will it prolong the recovery? Will it cause him to alter his form even after the pain has dissipated? Will he be able to focus on honing other aspects of the game?

Because while it’s been only two preseason games — and just two summer league games before he went down with a sprained ankle — it doesn’t look the Sixers are counting on Fultz to key many victories in the early stages of this season.

There are 82 games to go, not including the prospect of playoffs. If the Sixers are worried about Fultz’s development, there’s time. It’s a long season.

Again, we don’t actually know much at all about Fultz’s injury, so maybe it’s unfair to judge. But going off of the two preseason games he played, I’m not certain I understand the rush to get Fultz on the court when he’s clearly laboring.

NFC East Report, Week 6: Jerry Jones implodes his own locker room

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NFC East Report, Week 6: Jerry Jones implodes his own locker room

Each week, we'll take a look at how the Eagles' division rivals fared the previous weekend (spoiler alert: everyone who played got a win, which is sorta okay, since Dallas didn’t play) and what they have upcoming. This week Washington got revenge on the younger Shanny, Jerry Jones went full TO on his own locker room, and the Giants found a new way to let their fans down.

Here’s what happened in Week 6 in the NFC East:

Washington (3-2):

What Happened: Let’s call this one the “Jim Tomsula Revenge Game,” which up until this point, had just been what Washington’s defensive line coach had called it when he sent bits of his old mustache to members of the York family.

Despite getting to face Brian Hoyer (who was benched in the 2nd quarter) and holding the moral high-ground against San Fran’s winless head coach Kyle Shanahan (who was complicit in the physical destruction of Robert Griffin III), Washington barely squeaked a victory out at home over the hapless Niners, 26-24.

 Thanks to some pretty inconsistent play by future Niner Kirk Cousins (as well as one of those awful fumble returns for a touchdown where no one really knows what’s happening and you’re pretty sure the runner was down anyway), Washington blew an early 17-0 lead. They fought back, but then nearly blew a 10-point lead with three minutes to play, getting bailed out by an interception by some guy named Kendall Fuller. At the end of the day, Washington got the victory, despite being arguably outdone by rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard (who’s name would be infinitely cooler if it were DJ Beathard, or even C.J. Beard-hard).

Positive Spin: These aren’t Chip Kelly’s Niners; San Fran has lost their last five games by three points or less, and there’s something to be said about finding a way to win against an opponent that refuses to back down. It’s like Apollo Creed celebrating his split decision over Rocky in the first one.

A win is a win is a win is a win, and fans in the D.C. area still reeling after Max Scherzer and some freakish luck knocked off the local baseball team (AGAIN) can take pleasure in seeing their football team at least knew how to finish a game. If we believe in the edict that every win in the National Football League is tough, then good for Jay Gruden’s squad for getting the victory… even if it was against a winless bottomfeeder with no quarterback that had to fly across the country.



Negative Spin: While the Birds went on the road and beat an NFC contender on national television, this Washington squad struggled against a winless team at home. It’s like comparing your 100 meter time to Usain Bolt’s; no one is arguing that you can’t run 100 meters, but we’re not gonna sit here and argue whether you look as impressive doing it. That’s how Washington fans should be feeling right now; there was nothing good about this victory except that it was a victory. The NFC East leading Eagles, at this juncture, seem quite a few stones-throw ahead.

And while Washington didn’t lose the game, they lost some guys to injury, including first-round pick Jonathan Allen, cornerback Bashaud Breeland, and kicker Dustin Hopkins. The Breeland injury could be bad, as they’re already down Josh Norman, and losing a kicker is like losing a neighbor; you never know how good you had it until you get a really awful one. Here’s hoping the new Washington kicker plays death metal too loud at night, mows the lawn bright and early on Saturday, and never cleans up after his dog. Also, is an ax murderer. 

What’s Next: Don’t act like you don’t know. The Washington Football Team comes down 95 to Lincoln Financial Field on Monday Night with a chance to make the NFC East interesting.
While they’ll still have ten to play come Tuesday morning, this is a pretty big must-win for the only team whose nickname causes Supreme Court rulings. The Birds beat Washington in D.C. in Week One (like you forgot), which means a similar beating this week would give Philly the tiebreaker (not to mention a three-win lead in the division).

To sum-up: if Washington falls in Philly Monday night, expect Jeffrey Lurie to ask for playoff ticket deposits come Tuesday.

Dallas (2-3):

What Happened: It’s pretty hard for things to go poorly during a bye week, but Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is truly a master of innovation. He’s like the Steve Jobs of the NFL, had Jobs been able to create unnecessary controversy by talking when he shouldn’t have. Bare with me here, as this is going to wade a little bit into political waters; I’ll try my best to asses the entire thing purely from a football-standpoint.

Brief sum-up: While the Cowboys were preparing to lose to the Green Bay Packers two weeks ago, Jones’ was getting himself knee-deep into the Colin Kaepernick / Donald Trump feud. Most notably, Jones (whom Donald Trump apparently cold calls) became the first (and only) NFL owner to say any player who ‘disrespects the flag’ will be benched. (Those who read this space regularly will recall I begged Dez Bryant to call his bluff. As of print time, Dez had yet to return my calls. We can only reasonably assume he is a coward and/or only uses his phone for drawing silly pictures)

Needless to say, Jones’ threat to essentially fire players who protest did not go over well with a lot of the guys on his roster, resulting in a coaches-players meeting and then later, a players-owner meeting where many of “‘dem Boys” seemed reluctant to address whether their concerns had been addressed by the boss. 

So purely from a football perspective: In a league where management is often hell-bent on mitigating distraction, Jones has found a way to inject ADHD directly into the brainstem of his lockerroom. 

Jones is like a schoolteacher that learned all the other faculty are dealing with kids playing with fidget spinners, so he walked into his spinner-free class and yelled "ANYBODY WHO PLAYS WITH FIDGET SPINNERS GETS DETENTION." Except in this case, the fidget spinners are a non-violent protest against social injustice. But again, let's leave the politics out of it 

So politics aside, as an Eagles fan, I couldn't be happier that Jones has gone out of his way to sabotage the chemistry in his own locker room. It would have been less destructive for him to bring in Terrell Owens, Tim Tebow, and a pack of genetically-altered fire ants that learned how to recite “yo momma” jokes. What a clown.

Oh, and Zekes suspension was upheld, then blocked again, which means THAT bit of news will continue to hang over this team like a Hurricane over… Ireland, apparently. Man, the world makes zero sense.

Positive Spin: The only good news for Cowboys fans this week was the unfortunate injury to Cowboys Owner Aaron Rodgers. That’s what it takes to find joy as a fan of this franchise; injuries to the game's biggest stars. For shame.

They still have five division games remaining, including two against the Birds. That’s a lot of football left to play, and it’s entirely plausible the entire vibe around this squad is completely different come Thanksgiving. But for now, they’re not doing themselves any favors.

Negative Spin: The NFC East hasn’t had a repeat winner since the Iggles lost the Super Bowl, and there’s a reason for that; having everything go right two years in a row isn’t easy. Having already lost two games at home, and doing everything in their power to be the league's most controversial squad, the Cowboys aren’t exactly the betting-mans favorite to leapfrog the NFC East leading Birds, who currently hold a three-win advantage over them.

Oh, and Jason Garrett’s never had back-to-back winning seasons as a head coach, let’s not forget that. Can you believe this guy’s been in charge of this team for eight years? This bozo had a longer run than Castle, which is shocking, as I’d feel way more confident with Nathan Fillion calling plays. BRING BACK FIREFLY!

What’s Next: The Cowboys get those same winless 49ers this week, though at least it’s in San Fran. They’ll then travel across the country to face Washington who, if all goes according to plan, will have just been embarrassed on Monday Night Football. 

New York Giants (1-5)

What Happened: Yep, this seems about right. A week after dropping to 0-5 and missing a half-dozen starters, including the phenomenal Odell Beckham Jr., the New York Giants simply dismantled the Broncos in Denver on Sunday night 23-10, because sometimes football just doesn’t make sense. 

It’s like finding out that all the disgusting matter you pushed down your shower with Drain-O morphed into a sentient being, moved to Manhattan, and is now a Victoria’s Secret model. That was watching the Giants Sunday night, as this 0-5 disaster suddenly resembled an overly competent football team.

The Giants D made Broncos QB Trevor Siemien less comfortable than a television audience listening to Al Michaels crack Harvey Weinstein jokes, sacking the young QB four times and forcing a pair of interceptions. A Janoris Jenkins pick-6 in the final minute of the first half essentially sealed this one, though the most notable change for the GMen was some semblance of a running game. Some guy named Orleans Darkwa had over 117 rushing yards for Big Blue, which is the first time someone from the Giants has rushed for over 100-yards in a game since flip-phones were trendy. 

Credit will be given to Head Coach Ben McAdoo for firing himself and handing the play-calling duties over to Mike Sullivan. Me personally, I just wonder why it took McAdoo so long in the first place. Or why he was even hired to be making these decisions in the first place. It’s like buying plane tickets, then having the airline tell you all the flights are delayed so they’re giving you Amtrak tickets instead. Sure, I’ll still get to my destination, albeit a little late, and I can’t help wondering if I wouldn’t have been better off not hiring the airline in the first place.

That last analogy will be lost on the Mara family, as I assume they’ve never had to fly commercial.


Positive Spin: THE GIANTS HAVE FIGURED IT OUT!! They just went into the Mile High City and beat an AFC Contender coming off a bye week! This season’s not over yet, baby! After all, these Broncos won a Super Bowl just two years ago, and if there’s one thing Giants fans appreciate, it’s overrating a team’s expectations on some crazy Super Bowl victory of the past.

Negative Spin: At 0-5, the Giants season had ended. Honestly, it probably ended when Jake Elliott’s kick soared through the uprights in Week Three. And now, right when the tanks were getting ready to roll, they found a way to not only win, but win convincingly. The team that showed up Sunday Night looked legitimate, like the ones most delusional New Yorkers had been bragging about all summer. 

So not only has this team failed to live up to expectations, they’re now failing at tanking as well.

And we can’t go the whole recap without touching on the McAdoo / Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie feud. The Giants head coach suspended DRC for the crime of repeatedly quitting on his team, which Iggles fans will remember is exactly what he did to Andy Reid’s squad back in 2011. It’s almost as if this guy doesn’t care once his team starts losing. DRC’s in his 4th-year with the Giants and is a veteran on that defense; McAdoo seems completely in control of this locker room, yes sir.

What’s Next: Who cares? This team is in a no-win scenario. Lose, and they make their fans miserable. Win, and they cost a franchise in need of a youth movement the chance to draft higher. It’s one of those awkward wasted seasons where fans just aren’t sure what to root for; like that one game Pat Shurmur coached the Eagles, or any NASCAR race.

Anyway, the Giants play host to Seattle next Sunday, and who you root for really depends on whether or not you’re counting the magic number towards home-field advantage in the playoffs. I say GO GIANTS!