Sixers great and Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley called out the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday, but he missed the mark.
Using terms like “soft” and “mentally weak,” Barkley painted a vivid picture of just how deficient this Sixers team is, and he did it in just about the harshest way possible. Yet, Sir Charles was not correct in his assessment.
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The Philadelphia 76ers are not the Cleveland Browns.
They are the Cincinnati Bengals.
Think about it.
What are the Browns? They have been, are, and always will be abjectly terrible. It’s just an accepted fact at this point. They fire coaches and change quarterbacks like you and I change our underwear (at least I hope we all do.)
The Cleveland Browns haven’t been to the NFL playoffs in 17 years, and they’ve only had one season in that time where they’ve even been over .500. They recently had a winless season and a one-win season. Their fans can’t even be mad, because your team normally has to disappoint you to make you mad. The Browns are on another sub-level. They are a punchline every year, without fail.
So, in one way, Charles Barkley hit the nail on the head if he was merely trying to maximize the insult factor when it comes to sports.
But this basketball team isn’t that. They’re the other Ohio football team.
The Cincinnati Bengals rose out of awfulness to put together numerous good years between 2005 and 2015. They cracked double-digit wins six times during that span en route to seven playoff appearances in those years. They were consistently good for a decade.
And they had some great players to boot. Players like Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson, A.J. Green, and Pacman Jones all made star turns for the Bengals during that time. The talent was there. Then things would always end with a thud in the playoffs.
The Bengals lost all seven of those postseason games, many in gut-wrenching fashion. The talent could not overcome the lack of discipline and accountability that was a direct reflection of head coach Marvin Lewis, who the organization kept around for 16 years despite it being painfully obvious that he was never going to win.
Sounds a lot like where we’re headed with Brett Brown, does it not?
In Cincinnati, bad ownership, Lewis’ stale message and a fed up group of players eventually contributed to a slow and steady decline back down into the league’s basement, where they “bungled” their way to 2-14 this season, their first year AM (After Marvin.)
You only get so many chances and so many years to get things done, as Lewis and the Bengals can tell you, and sometimes it never happens. I’m fearing that this iteration of the Philadelphia 76ers will suffer the same fate. They’ll continue to be objectively good for a time, but where does that get you in the end?
But, on the bright side, the Bengals have the first pick in this year’s draft as a reward for being so bad. So, even despite this being such an unflattering comparison, at least the Sixers have that going for them. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?