Michael Carter-Wiliams (Image c/o Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)
Over the last couple of weeks there has been a lot of chatter in the national media circuit about what’s going on in Philadelphia.
In particular, GM Sam Hinkie and Co. have come under blast for failing to put a winning (no really, they still haven’t won a game and are on 0-13 at the moment) basketball team on the court. What’s more, this is intentional. And the fans, they’re lazy for accepting this. They clearly don’t understand sports at all, since they’re from Philadelphia. They threw snowballs at Santa!
In reality, the Sixers are beating the system. Rather than lurk around for an 8th seeded playoff spot, a quick departure, and a meh draft pick, the front office has decided to throw the season to get a great draft pick.
The throwing the season part they seem to have down pretty well.
For the most part, fans are okay with it. The team sucks, but better days are ahead. Days of Embiid, Noel, Saric, MCW, Wroten and more draft picks (we’ll probably get something like a bagillion 2nd rounders in the next draft) will be a beautiful corps to which free agents will be drawn. Not to mention the cap space they’ll have to sign those free agents.
So this is controversial. Decidedly in the team’s best interest, but bound to raise red flags nonetheless.
So it’s not very surprising when players’ effort gets called into question.
Last season’s Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams had some words to say about this in his recent article on Derek Jeter’s new website, The Players’ Tribune, where he discussed the Sixers’ locker room after ending their 26-game losing streak last season.
The media creates this narrative and repeats it over and over. That’s how Stephen A. Smith ends up in our locker room with a big smile on his face. I’m not picking on him. I know he’s playing a character. He knows he’s playing a character. But what happens when we break the streak by going out and beating Detroit that night? Now it’s another story. After the game, a lot of the reporters didn’t even stick around. The ones that did weren’t prepared. They didn’t ask us about the specifics of the game. They made up questions on the spot, like, “Uh, hey, you guys won … so how do you feel?”
We weren’t the story anymore. They were on to the next thing. Stephen A. didn’t really stick around. I guess he had a plane to catch. Believe me, I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure he doesn’t come back for the same reason.
Carter-Williams is right, of course. There’s no way media was happy with the Sixers’ win. A loss gives them a better story. Hell, the smarter of the bunch may have had some bets against the Sixers.
Smith took it to another level, issuing a threat to Carter-Williams.
“You’ve never going to have the last word over us. And you damn sure ain’t going to have the last word over me. I’m not going to start problems, but I can damn sure finish them. If these guys want to come at me, let them do it at their own peril. It will be a mistake.”
That escalated quickly.