Now comes the tough part for the Sixers and their impressive owners. After the ouster of their spirited (but leaderless team), the new guys have to decide whether what we watched was the birth of a contender or a one-year phenomenon.
If you can’t stand the suspense, here’s the answer: The Sixers were one-hit wonders. As presently constructed, they are no more likely to win a championship than they were last year, or the year before that. What we just witnessed was nothing more than a beautiful mirage.
The final game was a cry from the mountaintops to blow up a team that earned the respect of a surprised city. I know, I know. How can a bunch of New York investors come into Philadelphia, revive basketball in eight amazing months and then purge the roster that brought them their early success?
Well, they must. Andre Iguodala may have become a temporary hero in the Chicago playoff series — and occasionally against Boston, too — but he remains an enigma. One or two highlight-film dunks per game don’t make up for the dumb shots and idiotic turnovers that were a death knell in Game 7.
After all these years, Iguodala still can’t figure out how to make a big free throw (with one notable exception) or make a smart play. He has a million-dollar body perched on a 10-cent head. And yet, after his emergence in the national spotlight over the past month, he and his absurdly lucrative contract are tradable.
If the Sixers make that one move and unload Iguodala, they will be taking the next big step forward. They will be choosing the long-term success of the team over an ill-fated attempt to prolong the mirage of 2012.
The Sixers were handed a valuable lesson last weekend in Game 7. They saw what a team with talent and leadership does when confronted with failure. Paul Pierce fouled out with four minutes left and Boston holding a three-point lead, and Rajon Rondo calmly stepped forward and won the game.
Is there anyone on the current Sixers roster who could emulate Rondo’s heroics? Yes, Iguodala did it one time in Chicago, but he has failed on countless other occasions. Can Jrue Holiday do it, or Lou Williams, Elton Brand, Thaddeus Young? No. And that’s why the new owners need to put up a sign outside the Wells Fargo Center: Fire Sale. No Reasonable Offer Refused.
The Sixers proved this season that they could do more than any of us thought possible, but nowhere near enough on which to build a real future. For that, they will need a star, someone who can deliver more than a beautiful mirage.