No Spirit? No Big Deal?

Just one game?  Sure.

On Friday night, in front of over 20,000 fans at the Wells Fargo Center, the Sixers were totally outclassed by the 2-14 Cleveland Cavaliers.  During the game, I tweeted the following:

https://twitter.com/vinfosh/status/1066152935346896896

https://twitter.com/vinfosh/status/1066155354235576320

I was hoping our guys would be able to turn it around and get a win, but that obviously didn’t happen. I was frustrated. However, my frustration wasn’t because they lost. My frustration was due to the complete lack of effort demonstrated by the home team throughout the game.

As the game ended, I tweeted the following:

https://twitter.com/vinfosh/status/1066169912677273602

Moments later, Brett Brown’s post-game interview came on, and Brett was clearly as disgusted as I was. His direct quote: “We had no spirit.”

In the aftermath of this disaster, we were doing our usual thing on Sixers Twitter – assessing blame. More than a few people were pointing the finger at Brett Brown, which is understandable after a performance like that. However, I can’t put any blame on Brett for Friday night’s game. Anyone that has tried to lead a team in any setting (school, work, sports, etc.) has undoubtedly experienced a lack of effort from a member or members of their team. It is one of the most frustrating things you will ever have to deal with in terms of being a leader.

Obviously, it is the job of any leader to motivate their team to perform. However, as a leader you have to find a balance between too much pushing and prodding, which will eventually start to sound like white noise to your team, and letting the team find its own way. Especially in sports.

As a leader, I think Brett Brown has been somewhat masterful at this part of his job. It is pretty clear that everyone that has played for him has respected him and played hard for him. Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova both cited a respect and comfort level with Brett Brown as reasons for signing with the 76ers after they were bought out last season. Brett holds his players accountable while also letting them find their own way – a very difficult line to walk.

This is why Brett Brown gets a pass from me for Friday’s game. He deserved better from his players. I hold the players fully accountable for that lack of effort. Letting Cleveland get 14 offensive rebounds while you can only muster four is pathetic. Tristan Thompson just bulled his way into the lane for 8 offensive rebounds while on many of them; Ben Simmons just stood there and didn’t even attempt to get a body on him. Also, I don’t have the stats, but I would be willing to bet Embiid’s depth of catch on Friday night was significantly further from the rim than his average for the season. To pile on, Ben’s final stat line looked good in the box score, but if you watched that game and were happy with his performance, then you and I have different standards for star players.

I know, I know. It is just one game in November. This is a common theme from some of my favorite people on Sixers Twitter.  They feel there is nothing to worry about, because the team got off to a slow start last season and turned it around after Christmas and finished with 53 wins.

Maybe they are right. I hope they are right, to be honest. But when I sit down to watch a team that I love play, the only thing I ever expect is effort and spirit. I can handle missed shots, turnovers, bad fouls, etc. I will criticize those things – as I often do – but I can’t tolerate my team lollygagging around while the opposing team consistently outworks them. That is bull, and seeing it on a consistent basis is the only thing that would ever get me to tune out.

At the end of the day, if you are not concerned or not at least aggravated with that performance, then I would suggest that you haven’t really had to lead people or you haven’t been effective at it.

Now that I got that off my chest, I’ll “see” you all Sunday night.