PHILADELPHIA, PA (CBS) — Sometime tonight the Philadelphia 76ers are going make a franchise-changing choice with the third pick in the NBA Draft—probably Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell—and seconds after that, it’s a selection that the few scattered Sixers’ fans that have remained steadfast through these trying times will rejoice over.READ MORE: Disgruntled Bar Patron Opens Fire Into Northeast Philadelphia Bar Killing 21-Year-Old Woman: Police
Of the four major Philly sports teams over the last decade, Sixers’ fans have been dumped on the most. The Sixers have had one winning record in the last 10 years (35-31 in the strike-shortened 2011-12 season) and have won one playoff series in that span (upsetting the Chicago Bulls, sans Jalen Rose, in 2011-12).
It’s for them, the faithful, the diehards, the ones that sat through the muck and trash that deserve this.
Maybe tonight marks the landing of the Sam Hinkie ship. It’s been floating around for some time, full of hot air bouncing around, looking for a destination.
Maybe getting Russell and building around him is what the Sixers need to tell their fans “We’re ready to win.”
Because, other than them, nothing else really matters. The media, what remains that still cover the team, don’t matter. The Sixers owe them nothing.
The patience of Sixers fans under Hinkie has reached the boiling point. If the team doesn’t begin making strides towards respectability, a number of fans expressed concerns last year that they would stop going to games.READ MORE: Police Hope Surveillance Video Will Help Solve Deadly Shooting In Philadelphia's Oak Lane Section
A small sampling of opinions came last November, when the Sixers were in the throes of their 16-game losing streak that kicked off the season:
“The last two years have been tough, and you look back and figure we’ve won 4 out of our last 50 games, I think, so you just hope that our suffering now will pay off long run and three years from now, this will be a very good basketball team,” said Pete from Deptford, N.J., who’s been a season-ticket holder for eight years.
“I’m a die-hard Philly sports fan. I love my Phillies, my Flyers, the Eagles and I love my Sixers, too. I was a Sixer fan back when they were 9-73, and this team could be worse than that. You hope the plan pays off. I think next year they have show major improvement, like 30 wins. That’s major for this team. We’re looking at 5 or 6 wins at this point. They’re not good. I’ve invested in the plan. Two years from now, if they’re still a very bad basketball team, I have to rethink it. Right now, I’m going to hang in there.”
Trina, from Southwest Philly, was attending her first Sixers’ game as a birthday present, said, “This is very hard to watch,” Trina said. “I would come back, to support, but the losing has to change.”
Brian, from Blue Bell, gets tickets every year, but admits he wouldn’t buy tickets this year and wouldn’t have been there if the tickets weren’t given to him. He said he’s been a Sixers’ fan his whole life.
“It’s horrible, you wish that they wouldn’t have made the trades they did in certain years,” Brian said. “They’re not in it to win, and I haven’t bought into the plan. They’ve been talking about rebuilding the last few years. I was a long-time Allen Iverson fan. My point of reference is winning. I used to go to 18 games a year. I take clients here and I have to be entertaining, but it’s hard to watch. It’s depressing. As a basketball fan, it’s sad to see.”MORE NEWS: Arson Suspect Arrested In Connection To Fire, Building Collapse That Killed Philadelphia Fire Lt. Sean Williamson
It’s for them that Hinkie better begin to tank tanking.