The Sixers reversed the fortunes of a terrible offseason with one, majestic and amazing trade. They added a star player, a box-office attraction, and rid themselves of the most overrated and overpaid
athlete in the history of their franchise.
Welcome to Philadelphia, Andrew Bynum. Good riddance, Andre Iguodala. Great seats are available for the 2012-13 season, and now there is a valid reason to buy them. Bynum is a ferocious competitor, a skilled rebounder and a reliable inside scorer. Oh, yeah. He's also 7-feet tall and 24 years old. He's exactly what the Sixers have lacked since the departure of Allen Iverson -- a reason to watch, a reason to care.
There are drawbacks, of course. Aren't there always? Bynum will be a free agent at the end of the season, he has an extensive history of injuries and he is the NBA's version of DeSean Jackson. In fact, the reason very few Lakers fans are lamenting the departure of the pouty center is his knack for saying or doing the wrong thing.
Apro at 17, Bynum remains a child in a man's body. That's why he was caught parking his fancy sports car across two handicapped spaces, and why he was photographed with a Playboy Bunny perched on his shoulders while rehabbing from a torn MCL. Basically, Bynum is going to cause some trouble on the court for opponents -- and some off the court for the Sixers.
All of which makes him something Andre Iguodala never was (and never will be) well,
interesting. The most underrated quality in a Philadelphia star athlete is the ability to create buzz. Iverson had it. Mike Schmidt had it. And, speaking of Sixer centers, Wilt Chamberlain most certainly had it. For a team desperate for recognition in a city of Goliaths like the Eagles and Phillies, Bynum is a godsend.
Meanwhile, Iguodala can shrink even further from public scrutiny in Denver, where he will play good defense and cause no trouble. He will also sell no tickets and win no games with late heroics. He belongs in Denver, away from the bright lights of the East Coast. He never liked the responsibility anyway.
What he did like was the money. He made $13.5 million last season and is guaranteed another $30 million in the next two years. Ugh. That is way too much for a defensive specialist with the shooting touch of a stone mason.
The perfect postscript for Iguodala's career in Philadelphia took place in London on the very day of his trade last Thursday. He was sitting with other members of the U.S. Olympic team at lunch when someone asked for a photo. Serena Williams looked up and smiled, as did LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant. Iguodala never even bothered to lift his head.
And that's why it will be great to see Andrew Bynum playing in Philadelphia and even better to see Andre Iguodala shirking the spotlight, some 2,000 miles away.
Phils need to earn it
The 257-game sellout streak ended for the Phillies, another testament to the intelligence of the fans of our city. A clear and powerful message has been sent. If the team is not worthy of our money and attention, we will not blindly offer it. This is not Boston. We demand excellence.
During that historic streak -- which began nine months after the 2008 championship -- the Phils provided a sports product unprecedented in the history of Philadelphia. Not a single game was irrelevant. So many moments are etched in our psyches.
But that was then. The current edition is a painful reminder of the fleeting nature of success. Two of the aces, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, are past their primes, as is the core of the lineup, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
In a different world, the organization would feel no pressure to remedy the situation. They are, after all, a business, and every seat filled means success guaranteed. But now there are empty seats, and they represent a promise unfulfilled. Those seats will stay empty until the Phils give the customers a good reason to come back.
Once again, the fans have spoken. If the Phillies want our money, they are going to have to earn it all over again.
One rave review for new Lurie
As the story goes, Jeff Lurie was in a luxury box at a Sixers playoff game when his face flashed up on the video screen in the Wells Fargo Center. The boos were fierce and shattering. Witnesses say the Eagles owner expressed shock that he was so unpopular in a city where he had fielded a winner for many of his 17 years.
In the past three months, Lurie has fired president Joe Banner, divorced his wife of 20 years and has raised his profile significantly. His latest act was yet another example of a new and bolder approach, as he slapped down the notion that Andy Reid is his coach for life.
Reid's agent, Bob LaMonte, caused the ruckus when he stupidly said Lurie had told him that "as long as he's the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, Andy Reid will be his coach."
Just a few hours later, Lurie issued a statement that "all coaches, executives and players are evaluated each year. That's the way we have always operated."
Wow. For an owner who a few days earlier was calling Reid "rock solid" and "a teddy bear," this was a dramatic and unexpected turn. Speculation had been rampant that the owner's sympathy in the aftermath of the Garrett Reid tragedy would buy the coach at least one more year. Not true. Lurie made it clear that Reid is coaching for his job.
Either Lurie was appalled by the performance of the starters Thursday, or he really is working to change his image. Regardless of the reason, here's an early rave review for the Oscar-winning movie producer.
- Angelo Cataldi is the host of 94 WIP's Morning Show, which airs weekdays 5:30-10 a.m.
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