The Philadelphia 76ers have called it The Process. Whenever you hear the phrase it’s a process coming out of the mouths of team executives or general managers anywhere in sports, you can take it to the bank that they are a team who is going to suck.
Fans don’t like processes. Fans like immediate impact and instant gratification. No fans in the NBA have been strung along like 76ers fans over the past five years.
In NBA lore there was The Shot, when Michael Jordan hung in the air over Craig Ehlo to hit the game winner. There was The Steal, when Larry Bird flew in to intercept Isiah Thomas’ errant pass with 2 seconds left. The was The Decision, when LeBron James decided very childishly to announce his signing with the Miami Heat on national television.
And now there has been The Process by the Philadelphia 76ers. This process has included the two longest losing streaks in NBA history. The 76ers lost 26 straight games during the 2014 campaign and had 28 straight losses at the end of 2015 into 2016.
During that misery they used the third pick in the 2014 draft to select Joel Embiid, a monumentally talented center out of Kansas. Due to injuries Embiid missed more than 50 games over two seasons.
Last year they used the number one pick in the draft to select LSU’s Ben Simmons, a cerebral player with tantalizing versatility. Simmons was injured during summer league and has yet to play a single NBA minute.
Throughout the losing the 76ers have maintained that it’s a process. A process we should all trust. A process they’ve continued to employ even as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has urged them to field a winning team sooner than later.
Last night the 76ers drafted Markelle Fultz of Washington with the top pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He was the consensus number one selection and is expected to be a generational talent capable of making All-Star teams.
A smooth, silky guard with shooting range and top-notch athleticism, Fultz certainly looks the part of franchise savior. But he will not be alone in reversing the Sixers ill fortunes. The 76ers now field a formidable trio with Fultz, Embiid and Simmons. Already there is speculation that the 3 young superstars may be enough to lead the Sixers into playoff contention.
The Lakers, meanwhile, drafted potential superstar Lonzo Ball. Ball, with his bombastic father Lavar in tow, takes the helm of one of the NBA’s most storied franchises.
The Lakers will pair Lonzo Ball with athletic swingman Brandon Ingram and all-star center Brooke Lopez in an attempt to breath air into a team that has been in disarray since the 2013 achilles injury suffered by Kobe Bryant.
Ball, with his big-mouthed father, possesses limitless shooting range and a golden eye for passing. His prima donna persona, coupled with the claims of his father that he is better right now than Stephen Curry, will bring a showtime aura back to the Staples Center.
Ball has a target on his back already. The Sixers Joel Embiid is not so enamored of Ball and has already asked teammate Ben Simmons to dunk all over Ball the first time they play.
“Please dunk on him so hard that his daddy runs on the court to save him,” Embiid tweeted after Ball was drafted.
“Crazy Pills,” Ben Simmons tweeted during Lavar Ball’s sideline interview following the selection of Lonzo to the Lakers.
While twitter beef may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of rookies taking the floor for the first time, for the Lakers and Sixers both it is a welcome sight. Both teams have been mired in such ineptitude recently that any splash of intensity is a sign that things are headed in the right direction.
Lavar Ball will undoubtedly have a response to his son’s future rivals. Lavar has incurred the wrath of Steph Curry by saying that the Golden State Warriors would be more successful if Lonzo was on the team instead of Curry. He has incensed LeBron James by implying that his sons are better equipped for the NBA than LeBron James jr. will be. Lavar has quipped that he himself could defeat Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley one on one.
Fultz and Ball represent the future of two of the League’s all-time great franchises. For Fultz, he is the completion of The Process. Ball is the re-incarnation of Showtime.
“I’m going to tell you what: Lonzo Ball is going to take the Lakers to the playoffs in his first year,” Lavar Ball said after the Lakers selected Lonzo. “Come see me when he does. I’ll have another hat on that say, ‘I told you so.’”
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are ready to see Lavar now. So is Stephen Curry. So is LeBron James.
The Process is complete. Now it’s time to put up or in the Ball family’s case, hopefully, shut up.