Limbo is defined as “an intermediate, transitional, or midway state or place.” Does that place sound familiar? If you’re a Sixers fan, then it should.
Limbo is the place the Sixers have been since December 19, 2006. That is the date the 76ers traded their superstar, their hero, and their identity. That is the date they traded Allen Iverson to the Denver Nuggets.
Whether that was a good trade or not is a discussion for another day, but the fact remains: the trade of Iverson has put the Sixers in the NBA’s Limbo. Since then, they have been stuck somewhere between awful and great. To some of you that may be okay, but in a star driven league like the NBA, limbo is the worst possible place to be.
In limbo, you’re not bad enough to draft future superstars, like the Bulls who drafted Derrick Rose.
In limbo, you’re not good enough to attract superstar free agents, like the Heat who signed Chris Bosh and LeBron James.
Both of those teams are now first and second place respectively in the Eastern Conference, and both are favorites to take home a title this June.
On the other hand, the Sixers haven’t been bad enough, or good enough in the last five years to get that superstar to put them in title contention. Yes, head coach Doug Collins has done a great job with this season. This team plays tight defense, and spreads the ball around perfectly. However, in this league you’re only as good as your front office.
Evidence for this can be seen during Saturday’s game one of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal against the Miami Heat. The Sixers played a great game, holding James and Dwyane Wade to a combined 38 points, but in the end it was not enough. While the Sixers had just one 20-point scorer in Thaddeus Young, the Heat had two. The Sixers were able to limit LeBron to 21, but the Heat’s “third best player,” Bosh had 25 points and 12 rebounds.
In a star driven league, the Sixers had zero all-stars this year, and in this game it is almost impossible to win without at least one. That’s why the New York Knicks, formally a member of the NBA limbo club, signed Amar’e Stoudemire and traded for Carmelo Anthony. While they are only in sixth place, compared to the Sixers who are in seventh, they are already leaps and bounds closer to an NBA championship because they have the fire power to compete with an older Celtics team, and the ability to attract future free agents. Playing in New York City probably helps a little too.
The players have done their jobs, the coaches have done theirs, now it’s time for the front office to get to work.
In 2012 there are two big free agents on the market. One is point guard Chris Paul, who scored 33 points, dished out 14 assists, and had 7 rebounds in game one of his series against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The other is big man Dwight Howard who had 46 points and 19 rebounds in game one of his series against the Hawks.
If the Sixers fail to acquire one of these two, or fail to get a super star at all, Limbo might turn into Dictionary.com’s other definition: “a region on the border of hell or heaven”
Hopefully closer to heaven than hell.