My fellow Philadelphians, a great tragedy occured during winter break: 76ers guard Allen Iverson was traded to the Denver Nuggets. Depending on who you ask, Iverson was a leave-it-all-on-the-court player who made Philadelphia proud.
With the trade, the 76ers lost its star player and the “face” of the organization. But what is most alarming is that Iverson became just the latest in a long history of hall-of-fame caliber athletes to leave Philadelphia before retiring, often leaving with a negative attitude toward the city.
Curt Schilling, Wilt Chamberlain and Charles Barkley all hightailed it out of Philadelphia before their glory years.
While we could all sit around and recount the glory of years past, we should really focus on an important question:
who do we blame?
The first culprit of the drain of athletic talent is the Constitution. In an eerie pattern, a star player leaves Philadelphia
only if there is a change in the political party that controls the White House or Congress. Leaving out Eric Lindros and Scott Rolen, whose hall of fame candidacy is arguable at best, every major Philadelphia trade occurs when there is a change in power on Capitol Hill.
Curt Schilling was traded in 2000 when Republican George W. Bush was elected president. This is especially fitting as he even helped campaign for President Bush in 2004. Maybe Schilling just wanted to thank him. Wilt Chamberlain was traded in 1968.
That same year, Republican Richard Nixon succeeded Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson as president.
The same can be said for Charles Barkley who was traded in 1992 when Bill Clinton beat George H.W. Bush, a Republican.
Lastly, Iverson seemed to not talk about being traded until the Democrats gained the majority in both the House and the Senate.
Maybe Iverson is a Republican and needed a nice red state to play in.
Another suspect in most of the recent trades is incompetent management. Each of the aforementioned players – with the exception of Chamberlain – said that “management was not doing enough to win.”
This can be seen as a reflection of the city’s capacity to create strong leaders. Consider current 76ers coach Maurice Cheeks who oversaw one of the most delinquent teams in basketball history with the early 2000 Portland Trail Blazers. Also consider the lackluster career Jim Fregosi
has had since trading Schilling.But most would probably point the blame at the mirror because we Philadelphia fans are intolerant of failure.
As a result, team owners often act irrationally or players become easily frustrated. The management is then quick to trade talent, which in turn hurts our chances for a championship.
It is a terrible cycle that frustrates fans year after year. One could look to the most successful Philadelphia sports team, the Eagles, as an example of that. The Eagles often operate in a methodical, often stubborn, manner by ignoring most demands made by fans and the media.
Whether the blame rests with our forefathers, terrible management, or rabid fans, Philly will need a team to rise above all of these stigma to win a championship. Until then, we can expect our superstars to keep going out that revolving door. But one thing is certain: Philadelphia fans will never be cordial but will always be passionate.
That way we can all look forward to Donovan McNabb being traded if the Republicans take back the House.
Sean Blanda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.