Michael Carter-Williams (Image c/o USA TODAY Sports)
On Thursday, before the Philadelphia 76ers were scheduled to take on the Dallas Mavericks in the first of a three-game trip trough Texas, Sixers point guard Michael Carter-Williams had his first article for The Players’ Tribune go live. A new site founded by Derek Jeter, it’s a place where athletes can talk frankly about whatever they feel needs talking about, without any filters.
I think you can guess what topic MCW decided to talk about first.
Titled “Don’t Talk To Me About Tanking”, Carter-Williams discusses his dislike of the whole idea of tanking, how he dealt with the infamous 26-game losing streak that made the 76ers the laughingstock of professional sports and how the media can, and usually does, make things much worse than they really are. The highlights:
“Losing sucks. I don’t care how much money you make or what stats you put up. If you’re competitive enough to make it to the NBA, losing is absolutely brutal.”
On the losing streak:
“In the middle of the playoff race, a race we were decidedly not in, it seemed like the entire media spotlight was on us. And trust me, I get it. We had lost 26 games in a row. Of course, our roster had lost a combined 200-plus games to injury and we had used more than 20 different players in the lineup since opening night. That didn’t seem to be a part of the conversation. All anybody was talking about was ‘tanking.’”
On the media:
“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?’”
On if he has been giving 100%:
“You can question my shooting. You can question my ceiling. Just don’t question if I’m giving my all every single night. Don’t talk to me about tanking.”
It’s quite a compelling and honest read. It’s a brief glimpse into the mind of a player who knows his career is pretty much on hold until the Sixers’ rebuild starts to gain momentum and how he’s dealing with that.
I’ve been a huge fan of MCW since the day the Sixers drafted him and that has only grown after reading this. He’s a player who puts in maximum effort for a franchise that has basically told him he is going to lose, and lose a lot, before he gets to feel what it’s like to be a winner. Carter-Williams has dealt with trade rumors, fans giving him grief about his shooting and being on a team going nowhere and he still shows up each and every day and gives it everything he’s got. There are a lot of athletes in this city who could learn a thing or two from this young man.
Tanking may be the way to build a contender in the modern NBA, but don’t tell the players that. Especially Michael Carter-Williams.