Posted by: Tom Sunnergren
04/20/12 9:44 am EST

My brother and I, both not Patriots fans, were and are fascinated by the rise of Tom Brady.  A little known fact about the Michigan alum is this: he didn’t become great until well after he was publicly recognized as being so.  An even lesser known (though speculative) fact about Tom Brady is this: the fact of everyone thinking he was great didn’t just anticipate, but maybe precipitated, his actual greatness.

To wit: Tom Brady was a league average quarterback on a pretty good, but very well coached, Patriots team in 2001 that got inordinately lucky down the stretch and parlayed the luck into a Super Bowl win.  The quarterback, due to his looks and new jewelry, became not just ungodly famous — magazine covers and the whole shebang—but was suddenly credited with being one of the top quarterbacks, no players, in all of football.

And so he started working like one.

And so he became one.

We coined the phenomena, which crops up not infrequently in sports, the “Tom Brady Theory of Evolution.”  (If it sounds like we were reading too much Bill Simmons then, it’s because we were.)

(Very) long story (very) short, the TBTOE operated like this: confidence begat raised expectations which begat hard work which begat better performance which begat more confidence which begat higher expectations and harder work, and this vicious—for non-New England fans—cycle continued until Tom Brady, game manager, became Tom Brady, remorseless face eater.

The theory gives us a framework for understanding, among other things, Eli Manning, Jud Apatow, the 2008 New York Giants, Rick Santorum, and Rulon Gardner.

It also explains, through some admittedly Rube Goldberg logic, the 2012 Sixers.

What has happened to this team — which, lest we forget, was legitimately the best in basketball for a substantial chunk of the season (they had the best scoring differential in the NBA until the second week of February)  and yet has somehow posted a 12-21 record these last two  months despite not suffering any major injuries or unfortunate personnel changes — isn’t, I don’t think, a matter of the players tuning out Doug Collins, or the League getting hip to their idiosyncratic scheme, or the mere fact of how flat hard the whole roster has had to play to make this crazy thing go eventually wearing everybody down over their hyper-condensed schedule, but really just this: we’ve got a reverse Tom Brady Theory of Evolution on our hands.

Despite remarkably still having the NBA’s fifth-best scoring differential, the Sixers have the league’s 16th best record.  They’ve been, time, and time, and time again, just unlucky.  Like, really unlucky.  A 78-77 loss to the Clippers.  A 92-91 loss to the Wolves. 92-88 to OKC, 82-79 to the Knicks, 108-104 to the Nuggets, 97-93 to the Bucks, 96-91 to the Bulls.  Their whole season has been a bizarro – world inversion of Brady’s “tuck rule” game against Oakland.

At a certain point, to coopt a line, you are what your record says you are.  Even before the rest of us, the Sixers understood that. And on March 30, they finally collapsed under the weight of their own strangeness, losing to the dreadful Wizards by 21 points. The Sixers got so many bad breaks that, eventually, it broke them.

In basketball, and in life, you don’t always make your own luck. Sometimes, your luck makes you.


9 Responses to “TOM BRADY THEORY OF EVOLUTION & THE 76ers”

  1. Mike
    20. April 2012 at 10:49

    There is no reverse Theory in the works here.. Tom Brady was good and became great with one thing– experience. This
    sixers team is not unlucky, it’s just a mediocre team the way the team currently uses its players. The Sixers have a bad record in close games for a reason… Doug Collins belief that Lou Williams is the teams closer.. Having a player whose game is suited to play off the ball and plays bad defense, come in and dominate the teams late game possesions while costing the team on defense is the perfect formula to get beat in a lot of close games. Not unlucky, bad coaching strategy late in games.. Have an off the ball player dominate the ball causing the offense to be ineffiecent while having a super small lineup on defense is not how to win close NBA games down the stretch and it is the reason the Sixers have a terrible record in close games and has directly cost the team at least 3-7 games this year, just off the top of my head,

  2. Kmac
    20. April 2012 at 10:53

    I tell people all the time that this team wasnt the same after that Clippers loss…

  3. Tim
    20. April 2012 at 15:57

    What a joke! Your theory made a little bit of sense up until you said “was legitimately the best in basketball for a substantial chunk of the season”… you lost everyone in the universe with that. The Sixers are mediocre, and have absolutely no inventive coaching come crunch time, which explains their historically bad record in close games. They were never the best in basketball, hell they were never top 15 in basketball, as there are 10 teams in the West better than the Sixers… and I am a fan! This silly, homer, biased reporting is what makes sports media so terrible.

  4. Jay
    20. April 2012 at 22:04

    I agree w/Mike–love my sixers but they aren’t really that great. Most of our success lied in the fact that we were beating the teams we were better than–the teams we’re supposed to beat. On the same token we would consistently lose to better teams. Also, I’ve lamented all season our lack of a late-game closer. Lou Will is terrible in those clutch situations, his clock management is horrid and he inevitably ends up taking a bad shot or no shot at all. Unlike Mike though, I won’t blame coach–Doug’s just working with what he’s got. Lets be real, close game situation its either gotta be Lou or AI–and neither of em been clutch with any kind of consistency this season.

  5. Caster
    21. April 2012 at 09:00

    @Tim: it’s the 76ers blog. It’s supossed to be homer and biased. This isn’t a national media article. Team blogs and games broadcast on your local stations should have a homer feel to them. Games on TNT, ESPN should not.

  6. rob
    21. April 2012 at 10:37

    Wow that piece was on par with the sixers play of late. Dreadful. Terrible theory and worse explaination. How about you stop trying to be Simmonsesque and just post highlights of #3 breaking ankles. Can we retire his jersey yet?

  7. KRS1
    21. April 2012 at 13:30

    is it a coincidence this article came out on 420?

  8. Jay
    21. April 2012 at 18:13

    Brady replaced Drew Bledsoe, who had a SB appearance under his belt and was legitimately a top 5 QB at the time. Brady didn’t become great just because of hard work and competitive greatness, he always had the talent, most people just didn’t realize it as quickly as Belichick. The Sixers just simply do not have the talent. Their early season success has proven to be somewhat of a fluke due to the weird offseason.

  9. Matthew
    22. April 2012 at 08:46

    I would agree with Tom that at no point were the Sixers actually the best team in the league. That high scoring margin was simply a result of beating up on weaker teams at home. However, according to the Hollinger ratings, the Sixers were ranked number 1 for a few consecutive weeks so I understand were one could produce such a claim.

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