Previously on ‘Banking on Tanking’ – One year ago Joe Arleth, a young, single, arguably handsome 20-something from Philadelphia was fired from his high-profile job selling cell phones. At the same time, his favorite basketball franchise embarked on an historic journey to purposely become the worst team ever. Faced with adversity, Joe discovered that when one door closes another one opens. This is not because he is an optimist, but because he was broke and his house was really becoming a piece of crap. In order to survive the winter and afford holiday gifts for his loved ones, Joe devised a plan to wager against the 76ers in every game last season. It was the greatest and everyone lived happily ever after. The end?
Sometimes you gotta go back to actually move forward. And I don’t mean going back to reminisce or chase ghosts, I mean going back to see where you came from- where you’ve been and how you’ve got here, and to see where you are going. I know there are those who say you can’t go back. But yes you can, you just gotta look in the right place.
Those words are of course lifted from the inspiring Matthew McConaughey Lincoln MKC commercial. It’s not the first time that an automobile advertisement changed my life and I highly doubt it will be the last, but I can say with some degree of sincerity that I wouldn’t be here blogging if it weren’t for that ad.
The inspiration for the original Banking on Tanking campaign came not from a television commercial but as a means to survive the holidays. If you haven’t had the pleasure of being laid off weeks before a flurry of family dinners and get togethers, I cannot say I’d recommend the experience. Turns out that aunts and uncles are very willing to give you the benefit of the doubt when you say you need a semester or three to enjoy college before picking a major. Try telling them four years later that you need a few months to enjoy unemployment before looking for a new job, and they are less likely to smile and hide their disappointment in you.
So I created Banking on Tanking as a convenient answer to the reasonable “what are you doing with your life?” question that would inevitably be thrown at me all winter. With the website up and running, I could honestly respond that I was finally putting my journalism degree to good use with a paid blogging job (the paid part was technically not a lie as long as the 76ers lost enough games).
Financially, things worked out great. You may have heard that the 76ers lost 26 games in a row last season. That was super chill. Fast forward a year and things have turned around quite well for myself. I am an employed American once again (thanks Obama…), I used my 76ers gambling winnings to buy my first adult sized bed as well as a Bill Murray Space Jam jersey, and although my writing career stalled again, Katie Nolan did respond to one of my tweets last month. So life is good.
Then why am I back for a second season of Banking on Tanking? Well I’ll let Mr. McConaughey handle this one again.
Yeah Yeah Yeah, time is a flat circle. That probably has something to do with it. More importantly though, like Rust Cohle I enjoy drinking beer. But when I drink beer, instead of crushing the cans and turning them into dangerously sharp action figures, I appreciate gambling on sports. And when I gamble on sports I tend to blog about it- and people tend to like that. So who says you can’t go back?
The decision to revive this concept was made easier by the fact that the team should be terrible again this year. Now, I want you to understand that I do love the 76ers. Every night I sleep with an Alien Iverson doll in my previously mentioned new adult sized bed. So I don’t receive any pleasure from watching Brandon Davies and the crew lose. But I am a realist and an unapologetic supporter of the rebuild. It’s kind of like when a super cute girl gets dumped suddenly by her significant other. Am I happy that this horrible fate befell her? No. But am I going to let that stop me from ‘liking’ her last six Facebook pictures and maybe slipping her a poke? Of course not! Opportunity knocks! So I figure if Sixers’ fans are forced to be subjected to another historically disastrous season, why not once again find a way to squeeze some enjoyment (and spare change) out of the experience.
So enough foreplay. I’m back in the tank. Let’s take a look at this week’s match-ups.
11-13-2014: 76ers @ Dallas Mavericks
This game frightens me. By all accounts, the 76ers should lose easily. In fact they should lose most games easily. That’s kind of the point of this entire experiment. But it can’t be overlooked that the most anticipated coupling since Jim and Pam will finally get hitched tonight- Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlans Noel. The Keymaster and the Gatekeeper. It’s finally time to get these two crazy kids together and see what happens. Everything about this duo is an unknown right now. Forget how well they will play together, we don’t even know how many minutes they will play period. Common sense says that both returning players will see limited minutes and thus have a limited impact on the game. Yet, the last time I overlooked MCW in a season debut, it cost me $150 dollars in what is now known as the Mischief Night Massacre. My guard is up
11-14-2014: 76ers @ Houston Rockets
A gift from the gambling gods. The Sixers travel to Houston in the second night of a back-to-back to face a team they already fell to by 11 at home a week ago. With two games in two nights, there is a decent chance that the availability of the returning MCW and Noel will be up in the air. That’s a shame. You might remember what happened the last time Noel and James Harden got together? I’m sure Harden does. Something tells me he has plans for the 76ers Friday night. So either a not-quite-in-game-shape-yet MCW plays and Harden scores 37, or MCW sits and Harden scores 37. Either way, drinks are on me this weekend.
11-17-2014: 76ers @ San Antonio Spurs
If you are the 76ers, you want to be just like the Spurs when you grow up. For now though, this could be rough. Picture Master Splinter sparing with the Ninja Turtles, but before the heroes in the half-shell knew karate. Just Teenage Mutant Turtles fighting a highly skilled ass-kicking elderly rodent. That’s this match-up. Oh, and Michael Bay can suck a butt.
11-19-2014: 76ers vs Boston Celtics
This will be the first win of the season. First off, this might be the 76ers only winnable game until December. Secondly, I have two steadfast rules in life:
1) Stop trying to date girls named Nicole.
2) Never count on Evan Turner.
I’ll be placing 50 dollhairs on each of these contests. I am wagering dollhairs instead of dollars, because betting actual currency is immoral and illegal (thanks Obama…). I’ll be back next week to update you on my progress (and you can follow me on twitter @papajoeman). Until then, I encourage you to somehow find your own way to enjoy this 76ers season. Whether it’s tracking the improvement of the team’s young core, cheering on Noel and McDaniels as they try to become the middle link in a Rookie of the Year 3-pete, or simply by being thankful you aren’t a Lakers fan. The 2014 campaign will be difficult to watch at times, but just because something is terrible doesn’t mean its’ devoid of entertainment value. Take this other influential car advertisement for example.
I don’t want to be mean to the girl staring in this commercial, but I don’t think it would be too controversial to say it’s the worst ad since someone let Flo from Progressive sing about sports. I actually think most people would agree with me, with the evidence being that the comment section on this youtube video has been disabled. Like a wise Native American who can tell you a story about an ancient war just by sniffing the dirt, I can confidently deduce that a great troll war was once waged within those comments.
Why did I link to a second car commercial in an article that is supposed to be about gambling against the 76ers? Because I think this Peruzzi Mazda ad is very similar to the 2014 Sixers.
Is it painful to watch? Sure. Does it make you wonder what the people in charge are thinking? Yes sir. But around the 39th viewing, do you start to discover quirky charms? Uh huh. Doesn’t it start to grow on you a bit? Exactly. Do you find yourself enjoying it? I bet.