Preposterous Universe

Tuesday, March 01, 2005
A bold move

Never let it be said that I don't listen to the voice of the people.

I'm sure you've all heard the big news: my beloved Philadelphia 76ers, stuck playing .500 basketball and nipping at the edges of making the playoffs, made a bold move at the trade deadline when they dealt for Chris Webber. Philadelphia fans, hardened by generations of disappointment, will nevertheless consistently allow their hopes to be lifted by a big transaction, and this definitely qualifies.

As realistic as I might want to be, this was just about a perfect move for the Sixers. They gave up three solid players who just weren't that important to the team (Kenny Thomas, Corliss Williamson, and Brian Skinner). In return, they get a five-time all-star who essentially addresses all of their major needs at once: height, passing, rebounding, and a second scorer to complement Allen Iverson. There is some risk, of course -- both Webber and Iverson are aging, have huge contracts, and Webber in particular has knee problems that keep him from playing at 100% effectiveness. But if you can average 21 points, 9 boards, and 5 assists while playing on a bum knee, I'll take it.

For the first time in a long while, the Sixers have a starting lineup that actually makes sense, with nobody playing out of position. Their two veteran stars are joined by three extremely talented youngsters -- athletic prodigy Samuel Dalembert at center, sharpshooter Kyle Korver at small forward, and promising rookie Andre Igoudala at shooting guard. Sure, I'd like to see Dalembert play smarter, Korver be a little more versatile, and Igoudala be a little more aggressive on offense, but it's great to know that we won't be automatically outclassed at some position coming into most games. With veteran savvy coming off the bench (Aaron McKie, Marc Jackson, and Rodney Rogers), there's absolutely no reason why this team can't make serious noise in the playoffs. Suddenly, instead of wondering if we will make the postseason at all, we're a contender to march through a weak Eastern Conference all the way to the NBA Finals. Where, as you know, anything can happen in a seven-game series. (Trying to fit in all the cliches I can here.) Kudos to general manager Billy King for pulling this one off. It will be remembered when he runs for Governor some day.

Ideas on culture, science, politics.
Sean Carroll

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