According to ESPN reporter Marc Stein, the Sixers are working on a three way trade that would send reserve big man Marreese Speights to the Memphis Grizzlies. Speights, the Sixers’ 2008 first round pick, has yet to play a minute this season. The selection of first rounder Nikola Vucevic and the early emergence of Spencer Hawes as a legitimate center, along with front court regulars Elton Brand and Thad Young, have relegated the offensively gifted power forward to the end of Doug Collins’ bench.
Memphis is trying to replenish its frontcourt depth after losing valuable sub Darrell Arthur to a knee injury. The Grizz will send second year wingman Xavier Henry to New Orleans, and the Sixers will receive two second round picks in the proposed deal.
Now would be a good time to mention the place the Sixers have in my heart. In earlier posts, I described my sentiments on the Flyers and how hockey is by far my fourth sport. In due time, you’ll learn how I feel about the other Philly franchises as well, but the Sixers are, and always will be my first love. I know that makes me somewhat unique in a town where it’s easier to find Union soccer merchandise than Sixers gear.
For whatever reason, this has never been a good pro basketball town (I have my own theory on this that I will share another time). But that apathy for the Sixers has always fueled my passion for them even more. When I was a grade schooler, everyone was a Bulls fan – Michael Jordan was at his peak, trampling my hero Charles Barkley and my beloved Sixers on the road to his first title. That winter, Starter jackets were a popular item, and the glaring red and black Bull gleamed off most of the other boys’ backs after Christmas.
Not me. I reveled in my singular loyalty for my hometown team. Because I don’t have to share them with many others, i truly view them as being MY team. I cried when Barkley was dealt in 1992. In 99, when Allen Iverson led the Sixers back to the playoffs for the first time in 8 years, I went to the first home game against the Magic alone – no one else wanted to go. But I almost burst with pride when I walked into a rocking arena roaring “Let’s go Sixers!”. It literally still gives me the chills as I remember while writing this. I’ll never forget coming home after they won, on cloud nine, and my mother asking me, “Did you have fun?”, and when I told her how amazing it was, “Good, you deserve it.” I’ve never missed a home playoff game since, including the magical ride in 2001 that very well may have been the best time of my life.
All of this is a long winded, emotional way to explain my reaction to what is a very minor trade. Im an eternal optimist when it comes to my Sixers. While some may view Speights as a bust, and see the paltry return of two second round picks as condemnation of a wasted first round pick, I see this differently. Speights was, and still is, a talented player. He hasn’t even turned 25 and could definitely be a late bloomer. Skilled big men don’t grow on trees and are a commodity in the NBA. Which speaks to how far the Sixers have come in the last couple years – two years ago, a guy with Speights’ ability might’ve been starting, despite his defensive and rebounding deficiencies – now the Sixers are 9-10 deep and have no room to even play him. So they cleared a bit of money, got assets (however minor) for a player that wasn’t playing and would likely be departing at the end of the season. Solid move by what has become a very solid organization.
The organization is now led by some very active new owners – contact CEO Adam Aron on twitter (@SixersCEOAdam) and he will likely answer you personally and reads every tweet. The new owners, head coach Doug Collins, and the young exciting players the Sixers have assembled have me prouder and more excited than I have been since 2001 to be a Sixers fan – as if you couldn’t tell by this endless post in reaction to a trade of their 12th man. Join me before the bandwagon gets too full – or don’t. I kind of like it better that way.