The Andre Iguodala era reached its highest peak in its final year. With Iguodala leading the way with clutch shooting from the foul line and 3-point range, an element that was missing for most of his career, the 76ers came within one victory of reaching the Eastern Conference finals.
Although this is all certainly not Iguodala’s fault, the fact that almost reaching the Eastern Conference finals is the highpoint of his eight seasons as a 76er highlights the mediocrity of his tenure.
This past season was the Sixers’ first winning season since Iguodala’s rookie year (2004-05). Their first-round playoff victory over the Bulls was the first series the Sixers have won since drafting Iguodala ninth overall in 2004.
Iguodala isn’t a bad player. He’s a good player. In the right situation, he’s a very good player. But, as I’ve stated for several years, he can’t be your best player. If Iguodala is your best player, you can’t be a very good team.
By trading Iguodala, along with Nik Vucevic, 2012 first-round draft pick Maurice Harkless and a future first-round pick, for massive center Andrew Bynum and veteran guard Jason Richardson, the Sixers admitted they had gone as far as they were going to go with Iguodala leading a collection of wing players. Head coach Doug Collins figured out how to get the most out of his roster, but the roster needed to change if the Sixers were going to develop into championship contenders.
The offense changes dramatically with Bynum in the low post. The expectation is that the Sixers will feed the ball to their new big man in the low post in their halfcourt offense. This past season the Sixers were adept at scoring on the fast break, but often were inept in their halfcourt offense.
In addition to changing the team’s style, trading Iguodala may also create room for young players’ games to expand. Evan Turner, in particular, may have more opportunities to develop his talents without Iguodala on the court. Like Iguodala, Turner is a mediocre shooter who can drive to the basket and create opportunities for his teammates. But there is only one basketball.
The younger players may have been overly deferential to the veteran Iguodala. We should see greater contributions from Turner and guard Jrue Holiday without Iguodala’s presence.
This isn’t, however, a pure case of addition by subtraction. The Sixers will miss Iguodala’s defensive ability. Someone will need to step up and become a defensive stopper. It could be Turner, but it’s doubtful anyone will fill this role as well as Iguodala – at least not next season.
Iguodala is best-suited to be a complementary player on a team with another superstar or two. A team with Iguodala as its third-best player is a championship contender. A team with Iguodala as its best player is destined for mediocrity.
By trading Iguodala, the Sixers made a bold move to escape the mediocrity – or worse, when Eddie Jordan was the coach – they had been stuck in since drafting Iguodala.
REID’S RECEPTION: Thursday was a proud moment for Philadelphia fans. The heart-warming reception Eagles fans gave Andy Reid during last Thursday’s preseason game was the polar opposite of Philadelphia fans’ negative national reputation.
Reid spoke of being humbled by the outpouring of support he and his family have received since their oldest child, Garrett, was found dead at Eagles training camp on Aug. 12. Fans actually broke into an “Andy! Andy!” chant, similar to the “Charlie! Charlie!” chants that often serenade Phillies manager Charlie Manuel as he vigorously argues with an umpire, when he threw a challenge flag in the third quarter last Thursday.
The often-criticized Reid may get a bit of a break from Eagles fans, but he won’t receive a free pass. Remember, many of those fans chanting “Andy! Andy!” were the same ones who chanted “Fire Andy!” last season.
SCHEDULING WOES: The Eagles’ preseason schedule makes little sense. After their 24-23 victory over the Steelers in their preseason opener last Thursday, there is an 11-day gap before the Eagles’ next game. By contrast, their final three preseason games will be played in an 11-day span.
Not only do the Eagles play their third preseason game just four days after they play the Patriots on Mon., Aug. 20, but the opponent is Cleveland. The Eagles open the regular season against the Browns on Sept. 9. Instead of using their starters for at least a half in the third preseason game, which is usually the game that most closely resembles the regular season, the Eagles will likely use an abridged playbook and only the most basic schemes. The starters probably won’t see as much time as they usually would, unless the first team turns in another dismal performance against the Patriots.
Because of the schedule, the Patriots game will likely be the only game in which the starters will get significant and meaningful playing time during preseason. That’s not a good way to prepare for the regular season.
SCHEDULING WOES II: I know television is king when it comes to scheduling, but the Arena Football League was poorly served by having ArenaBowl XXV start at 10:30 on Friday night. Maybe that’s OK for the West Coast, where the game started at 7:30, but that’s much too late to start a championship game. The Soul are fighting for fans in a crowded sports market. How many of them stayed up to watch the championship game?
Fans who couldn’t stay awake missed the high-scoring Soul posting just 13 first-half points and trailing by 18 point early in the third quarter during their 72-54 loss to the Arizona Rattlers, a team they did not play during the regular season. ArenaBowl XXV was a disappointing end for a team that enjoyed an excellent season.
SCHEDULING WOES III? All signs point to an extended lockout as NHL owners and players negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The Flyers’ regular season isn’t scheduled to start until Oct. 11, but, with training camp scheduled to open in September and the current CBA set to expire on Sept. 15, time is already on the verge of running short. The players are expected to make a counter-proposal on Tuesday.
A delayed start to the season will create a scheduling mess. Unlike the NBA, NHL teams can’t play three games in three nights. That makes putting together a condensed schedule more difficult.
On the other hand, a lockout that lasts until December lessens the impact of injuries to Flyers defensemen. Andrej Meszaros had surgery Tuesday to repair a torn right Achilles tendon, which could cause him to miss most, if not all of the upcoming season. CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Panacchio confirms a Swedish newspaper report that defenseman Andrea Lilja had hip surgery and could be out until December, although Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren says Lilja could be back in late October or November.
MOVING FORWARD: Ryan McCombie, a newly elected member of the Penn State Board of Trustees, filed an intent to appeal NCAA sanctions. McCombie, one of three new board members elected by Penn State alumni, follows the lead of the Paterno family in filing an intent to appeal.
Last week I wrote that it would be interesting to learn the honest opinions of Penn State officials regarding the Paterno’s appeal. On the one hand, the Penn State administration and Board of Trustees seems to want to put the Jerry Sandusky scandal behind them as quickly as possible. On the other hand, some may be pleased to see the Paternos stand up to the NCAA.
The Board of Trustees had been scheduled to vote this evening (Sunday) on whether to ratify the consent decree, but the vote was delayed because not enough advance notice was given for the meeting. Regardless of when the vote takes place, I don’t think there’s any chance the board won’t vote to consent to the sanctions. This is an attempt by the board to squash efforts such as McCombie’s, which cites the absence of approval by the Board of Trustees as one of the reasons for the appeal. Several other board members have expressed support for McCombie.
When Board of Trustees Karen Peetz says “It is now time to put this matter to rest and move on” when discussing the reason for the vote, it’s not difficult to ascertain the motives behind holding a vote.
OLYMPICS BACK ON TRACK: The track and field events heightened the excitement of the Olympics during this past week. Usain Bolt, the outstanding performances by the United States women and the 1-2 finish by Americans Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee in the decathlon were among the many track and field highlights.
RAISING THE BAR: In addition to having a great name, Epke Zonderland of the Netherlands turned in one of the most amazing Olympic performances I’ve ever seen. Devoted readers of Fish ‘n Chips know I don’t get overly excited about gymnastics, but the horizontal bar men’s finals were incredible.
Germany’s Fabian Hambuechen took the lead with an incredible performance. But Zonderland followed with a thrilling, jaw-dropping performance to earn the gold. You can watch it here.
MISSING IN ACTION: As I flipped around the various NBC-owned channels, I saw fencing, table tennis (Ping-Pong), volleyball (beach and traditional), synchronized diving … but I barely saw boxing and didn’t see any wrestling. What’s the matter? NBC couldn’t find any emotional stories about boxers or wrestlers to tug at viewers’ heart strings?
NOT A SPORT: In the ongoing argument over what is and what isn’t a sport, can we all find common ground in agreeing that rhythmic gymnastics is not a sport?
Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for more than 23 years, has never competed in synchronized anything.