Beyond the Bison: Sports News Across the Nation

By Julian Dorey

It seems like “teams” never win anymore in the NBA.

If you don’t have a superstar—a Kobe Bryant, a Lebron James, a Dirk Nowitzki—common belief says you can’t win a championship. Many will go as far as to say as teams without a superstar can’t compete, period.

This year, one team has decided to ignore these axioms: the Philadelphia 76ers.

Sure, this exciting and very young team might not be quite ready to legitimately compete for an NBA title, but they are making waves around the league and have certainly declared themselves a force to be reckoned with. As of Feb. 14, their record stands at 20-9, good enough for third in the Eastern Conference. 

They’ve achieved that record without a superstar. Swingman Andre Iguodala was recently named to his first All Star Game in his eight-year career and has played brilliant team ball and defense this year, but he’s hardly a “Batman” by the modern-day NBA standards.

Outside of Iguodala, the Sixers are supported by smart, hard-working role players. Their scoring starts with their brilliant young guards, Jrue Holiday, Lou Williams and Evan Turner. None of their stats jump off the page at you, but these players all thrive in their roles. Holiday is the unassuming 21-year-old point guard, Williams is the ice-in-his-veins scorer off the bench, and Turner is the scrappy, strong-rebounding facilitator.

In the front court, the Sixers continue to be led this year by 32-year-old veteran Elton Brand. Brand can’t score like he used to, but his leadership has continued to be an invaluable asset for the team. Seven-footer Spencer Hawes has been a pleasant surprise this season when he’s been healthy. And Thaddeus Young has continued to be the nightmare matchup for opposing teams off the bench. 

Sprinkle in Jodie Meeks’ three-point efficiency and the solid play of the rookie big men, Nikola Vucevic and Lavoy Allen, and it’s easy to see why the Sixers are winning: teamwork and depth.

The mad scientist behind it all is Doug Collins. After just two years as the head coach of this youthful team, Collins has halted the losing trend the Philadelphia fans have unfortunately become accustomed to with their basketball team.

Not one player “demands” the ball. Not one player calls the 76ers “my team.” Not one player complains. Not one player takes a single possession off. These are trends you just don’t see in the NBA today.

In the past few weeks, the Sixers have beaten (handily) superstar-oriented teams like Orlando (Dwight Howard), Chicago (Derrick Rose) and the L.A. Lakers (Kobe Bryant).

It’s so refreshing to see the mighty fall to a team that stands for everything people claim the NBA does not anymore.

Given another year or two to gain some experience and continue to develop, the Sixers may well be on their way to proving that there doesn’t have to be an “I” in team after all.

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