76ers fans hold out hope as losses mount
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Harvey Pollack is the last original NBA employee from the inaugural 1946-47 season, the man who scribbled “100” on a piece of paper for Wilt Chamberlain to hold in the classic 1962 snapshot of his record scoring game.
So any need to make another “100” sign for Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown?
“It won’t be that high,” said the 92-year-old Pollack, the 76ers’ director of statistical information, of the team’s current losing streak. “But I don’t know when they’ll win again.”
No one does.
That’s what’s scary as the Sixers stand one loss shy of matching the worst start in NBA history at 0-17. They can tie the Nets for the record with a loss on Wednesday at Minnesota, then break the record at home Friday against Oklahoma City.
Still, as the final seconds ticked down in Philadelphia’s 109-103 loss to San Antonio on Monday, one fan heading toward the exit stopped when he saw Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil applauding the effort from the third row.
“Together we build,” the man yelled. “I don’t care what anybody says, I love it.”
O’Neil shook his hand and smiled, somehow finding one more happy customer in a yet another season marked by miserable losses, with no guarantee of a quick turn-around.
“In the fourth quarter, this crowd is on their feet yelling ‘Defense, defense, defense.’” O’Neil said. “It’s enough to give you the chills.”
Imagine his reaction if the Wells Fargo Center was ever close to full. The Sixers are 29th out of 30 teams in attendance with a 14,237 per-game average.
Aaron Wingert, a season-ticket holder for five years, pumped his fists until the final horn Monday. With a courtside seat, Wingert had good reason to stick around even for the repeat view of dejected Sixers trudging back to the locker room.
He says he’s too loyal to give up on the team.
“It’s hard to root,” he said. “But you cheer them on, you believe in the plan, you believe in ownership. They won me over, for right now. But let’s see something.”
The Sixers matched a NBA record with a 26-game losing streak last season. With two top-10 picks in this year’s NBA draft, immediate help seemed on the horizon. Instead, team president Sam Hinkie drafted Joel Embiid (injured) and Dario Saric (overseas), who likely won’t play this season.
“I didn’t know it was going to be like this in Year 2,” Brown said. “Nobody really planned on, your draft picks aren’t going to play in Year 2.”
Until the team gets better, the Sixers will at least try to keep fans happy — any way they can.
Brown called O’Neil last week and pitched taking front-row season ticket holders out for dinner. Hinkie volunteered to deliver a pep talk to team sales staff. O’Neil holds routine town hall meetings with ticket holders.
And the No. 1 question?
“When,” O’Neil said. “When does this thing get turned around?”
That’s the 70-loss question.