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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sixers Need a True Leader

It’s February 1, and in the NBA that means the trade deadline isn’t far off. Unlike the NHL and Major League Baseball, the trade deadline in the NBA is an actual deadline. There are no waiver deals, so unless a team thinks there’s someone actually worth bringing up from the Developmental League the deadline is the last chance to improve a team.

Let’s face it, the days of NBA teams bringing someone up feels like ancient history. The Sixers used to pluck at least a fan favorite from the Continental Basketball League before Isiah Thomas somehow bought the entire league, and it eventually became the place to send NBA players who aren’t living up to their potential for punishment.

After Friday night’s debacle in which the 76ers dropped a 21-point lead to lose to the Charlotte Bobcats, it’s clear that this team is absolutely devoid of a team leader. Hearing Doug Collins and the media praise Andre Iguodala after Sunday’s win against Denver made me sick. Collins even said Iguodala wouldn’t let the team lose.

Really? How about if Iguodala does that when it’s actually needed?

Denver followed their loss to the Sixers with another one to New Jersey. Beating the Nuggets doesn’t erase what happened Friday night.

That loss has stuck with me as a fan more than any other this season. I hate to use clichés, but that just can’t happen. Iguodala wants to be treated as an elite player, yet he allows his team, which was on a mini-winning streak, to lose to Charlotte when they were up by 21 late in the game.

A fair question might be: What does it mean to not allow a team to lose?

Turnovers were blamed for the Sixers loss, but – another cliché, I admit – the real problem was that no one took the game by the throat. Look at Iguodala’s stats: he shot 5 of 9 from the field, 1 of 4 from 3-point range, and 1 of 1 from the free-throw line.

Despite being listed as a shooting guard, Iguodala is a slasher. His offensive skill is going to the hoop.

The so-called, or self-described, leader of the team sees a 21-point lead slipping away and doesn’t do the thing he’s best at – go to the basket. That’s ridiculous.

Yes, the Sixers were turning the ball over with some terrible passes. All the more reason for the team leader to take the ball and get his butt to the basket. Get to the free-throw line. Break the Grizzlies momentum.

Iguodala don’t do it. This is a guy that’s been caught whining during the last seconds of a game because he didn’t get the ball. Apparently, he only wants to be a leader when the stage is set, when the “moment” is obvious. Putting the brakes on a 21-point collapse halfway through it when the team is still up by 10 or 15 wasn’t sexy enough for him.

The silence of the front office has been understandable up until now. Time was needed to learn what this team was with an actual coach instead of the ridiculous job done by Eddie Jordan. Doug Collins is bringing this team back to respectability.

Trading Iguodala would take a minor miracle. The only thing elite about him is his contract. He won’t be truly tradable until the time that contract is set to expire, and by then the Sixers should (for once) let it expire to start to maintain some cap flexibility.

But this team needs a leader. The front office needed to find a way to get a true leader in here. Even if it’s not the leading scorer type of guy, somehow they need to get somebody on this roster that truly doesn’t allow the team to lose games even when it’s not the clichéd crunch time.

It’s time for the silence of the front office to stop.

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