The Philadelphia 76ers have been inspiring this season, but in all the wrong ways. The Sixers inspired coach Doug Collins to melt down and call out his players after an ugly loss to the Orlando Magic on Feb. 26. If that wasn’t enough, the Sixers finally drove CEO Adam Aron over the edge after they choked away a win over the Denver Nuggets on March 21.
The Sixers should have ended the Nuggets’ 13-game winning streak, but instead turned a 100-95 lead into a 101-100 loss in just under 10 seconds. It inspired Aron to go to Twitter and declare “That was the worst last minute of 76ers basketball I’ve seen in ages. Mind-numbingly bad.”
No one who watched the final 10 seconds would disagree with Aron. First they allowed Corey Brewer to hit a three, then saw Evan Turner miss two free throws, then witnessed Damien Wilkens foul Brewer beyond the arc, then stood by as Brewer hit three free throws, and finally saw Wilkens have a three-pointer of his own blocked at the buzzer. It all technically happened in much less than a minute, yet Aron’s point still stands.
However, the Sixers have been mind-numbingly bad for much of the season already. It looked like Philadelphia was turning a corner a bit, after beating the Brooklyn Nets and Indiana Pacers while challenging the Miami Heat last week. Yet the Sixers couldn’t carry the momentum on the road, like they haven’t all season.
Collins and Aron reached their breaking points over the two most inexcusable losses of this year. For Collins, it came after a defeat to a bottom feeding Magic team that still dominated the Sixers in Philadelphia. It was the peak of the Sixers’ post All-Star break struggles and the final proof that the team wasn’t going anywhere.
Aron’s breaking point came after a loss that clinched a sub .500 record for the Sixers. But none of their previous 41 losses came like this, as they controlled a red hot Nuggets team for 47 minutes and 50 seconds before an inexplicable 10-second nap.
After Collins’ postgame complaints, the Sixers just kept losing, so it isn’t likely that they will wake up after Aron’s rant. But Aron is in a bigger position to make whole sale changes out of his frustration when the season is over -- with the players and with Collins himself.