Here's to never forgetting.

Those are the words now-legendary head coach Mike Krzyzewski uttered toward a gathering of Duke athletic officials who had hoped to move past an embarrassing 109-66 defeat at the hands of Ralph Sampson and Virginia in the 1983 ACC tournament. 

Krzyzewski has often pointed to that as the pivotal moment when his program began to come of age. The proverbial line in the sand was drawn. Motivation was established. No longer would Duke be a doormat.

It's a lesson the Sixers organization, from top to bottom, should take to heart following LeBron James' decision to sign with the Lakers.

Make no mistake what happened here. The NBA's reigning king performed the business equivalent of posterizing the Sixers. 

After all indications were that he would sign with the Lakers in the days leading up to the start of free agency, James still had the Sixers send a contingent to Los Angeles for a meeting Sunday. 

A meeting he did not attend. A meeting which took place a day after he reportedly met with Magic Johnson at his house to seal the deal with the Lakers. A meeting which barely ended before James' representative announced said deal with the Lakers.

I'm sure one of James' media sycophants will be fed the company line as to why the meeting with the Sixers needed to take place. But it sure seems like it had the two-part goal of wasting Josh Harris and company's time while manufacturing the 11th-hour drama that was missing from James' most recent decision.

 

With Kawhi Leonard also likely headed to Los Angeles to join powers with James, the Sixers now find themselves hunting for stars in a suddenly clouded galaxy.

Anthony Davis isn't a fit even if he forces a trade from New Orleans. And everyone else seemingly available is currently one to two tiers below the type of player that guarantees a Finals appearance alongside Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

That means it's likely up to the pieces currently in place to make the difference. 

Embiid has to take a step in his conditioning to ensure he can withstand the rigors of playoff basketball.

Simmons needs to make sure his game matures to a place where none of his playoff minutes can justifiably be given to T.J. McConnell.

Markelle Fultz has to play like the first overall pick in the NBA draft.

Brett Brown needs to develop Zhaire Smith into 1A because 1B isn't going to get the Sixers a title. (Especially with that added first-round draft pick in 2021 not looking as valuable as it once did.)

And this moment should help to fuel the fire for each of those individuals.

The Sixers sport two generational talents and loads of roster and salary flexibility. Yet, the best player in the world gave them a cursory glance before taking his crown and establishing another kingdom. It was the type of dismissal usually saves for chase-down blocks.

The mindset for the Sixers should be a simple one now: Here's to never forgetting July 1, 2018, and making sure LeBron James always regrets it.

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