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Could the Sixers be relocated if team is sold? And would Philadelphia miss them?


When word came across the wire Tuesday that the Sixers were in talks “about the future of the team,”  it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize a pending sale could be very likely.Sixers photo: www.bleacherreport.com

If the Sixers do get sold to a dedicated owner who wants to make this team a winner, this is the best thing that could happen to the franchise in years.

After all, the Sixers have been a work-in-progress for a very long time. Comcast Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider seemed to treat the 76ers as somewhat of a step-child. And while it’s no secret that Flyers hockey will always be Snider’s passion (and understandebly so), it’s pretty obvious that the Sixers at times have been neglected, and the franchise has suffered as a result.

Do I think Pat Croce bit off more than he could chew after the 2001 season (or as the story goes)? Absolutely, but couldn’t a compromise have been made to where you could have kept him? Excitement was at an all-time high for the Sixers during Croce’s tenure with the team, and it has been a downward spiral since he left.

According to ESPN.com, the big-name players rumored in this possible sale of the team are New York-based leveraged buyout specialist Joshua Harris, and former NBA player agent and Sacramento Kings executive Jason Levien. Why anyone wants to buy this team in its current situation in addition to a possible NBA lockout looming is beyond me. Unless of course, Harris and Levien have bigger and better things planned for this team.

But what if it doesn’t include a future in Philadelphia?

I know there’s an elephant in the room here, but when any new ownership comes into play with a franchise, you can’t help but wonder if the Philadelphia 76ers, once considered one of the proudest franchises in the NBA, could possibly relocate to another city?

And not only that, would anyone seriously care?

Truth be told (and I know I’ll get some hate mail for this), I always used to snicker back in the day whenever the Sixers were mentioned in the same breath as the Lakers and Celtics. While the Celtics won three titles with Larry Bird and co. in the 1980’s and the Lakers won five with Kareem and Magic, the Sixers won just one- losing three times in the finals along the way. Julius Erving in1983. So THAT'S what an NBA trophy looks like. Photo: www.proxibid.com

The Sixers have won only two titles in Philadelphia, while Boston an the Lakers have won 17 and 16 NBA titles, respectively. With the exception of Pat Williams in the 1970’s and mid 80’s (and even that tenure was tarnished with the Moses Malone trade), there has never been a consistent enough ownership group or management team who has been dedicated to making the Sixers perennial winners like the Buss family in Los Angeles, or the dozens of owners the Celtics have had (and there have been dozens).

To be fair, both LA and Boston have had their down years, but both franchises made the changes that were needed and success followed. That never happened in Philadelphia. And as fun as it was to watch Barkley play, the Malone trade set that franchise back a decade.

Although their two championships fielded two of the greatest teams to ever take to the NBA hardwood, I think it’s fair to say that the 76ers’ tradition is based more on their legendary players like Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, and later on Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson.

And as far as popularity in Philadelphia goes, the Sixers are a distant (and I mean DISTANT) fourth behind the Phillies, Eagles, and Flyers. Everyone knows this is more of a college basketball town anyway. Even when the Sixers had Dr. J., they weren’t selling out the Spectrum. Since the 2005-2006 season, the team has been ranked no higher than 20th in NBA attendance, and this was before Iverson was shipped out of town. However, if the Sixers do move, Philadelphia’s position as a major sports market weakens. As low on the totem pole as the Sixers are, their presence in this town helps make it one of the leading sports cities in the country.

Now make no mistake, just because these guys reportedly have a lot of money means nothing as far as championship possibilities are concerned (just look at Mark Cuban, although this could change by next week). However, shelling out some big bucks for Dwight Howard next year could single-handedly transform the Sixers from first round playoff exiles every year to contenders finally capable of winning an NBA title.

Unless of course, the team moves to some other market, signs Howard, and then goes on to win a title.

I know for a fact that all of Philadelphia would care if that happened.


Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com


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Doc Photo: www.Proxibid.com'

Sixers photo: www.bleacherreport.com