Growing up in the late 90s and early 00s, I developed an affinity for the Cartoon Network program, Ed, Edd n Eddy. The animated show featured three boys who wrecked havoc on their parents and really just lived their daily lives in their cul-de-sac kooky pandemonium.
Thus, when the 76ers, who were then led by Chairman Ed Snider and General Manager Ed Stefanski, fired former head coach Eddie Jordan, I wrote a crafty blog post that constructed a conspiracy on how Ed Stefanski and Eddie Jordan in 2010 (who had been friends from their days with the New Jersey Nets) worked to derail this dilapidated organization.
Now, looking back on my adolescence, and knowing what I now know about the NBA, I realize that the only legitimate conspiracies in the League only involve officiating and injuries. However, I still truthfully believe that the Ed, Ed and Eddie era of the Sixers set back this organization to where they are now.
When you really look at it, the Sixers haven’t been truly successful since Allen Iverson and Larry Brown were rocking the First Union Center crowd. Since then, The Sixers have lacked the superstar and solid coach (Editor’s note: Jake is not a Doug Collins “guy”.) they need to be a legitimate contender. It was Stefanki’s job to fill those holes five years ago.
I met Ed Stefanski in a Wachovia Center Club Box during the second half of a meaningless late-season Sixers game in the spring of 2008. Stefanski was meeting many season ticket holders, shaking hands and kissing babies. A lot of people in the room just said it was nice to meet him and he joked how he had a big summer ahead of him. I was point blank and my early teenage self asked Stefanski, “Who is your top free agent priority this off-season?” The man stared back at me through his oval glasses for a few seconds and said something along the lines of, “We’re getting Elton Brand, kid. And I don’t care what it takes.”
Today, people are so adamant about the Sixers not properly researching Andrew Bynum’s health before trading for him. Five years ago, NOBODY ever truly questioned the Sixers about Elton Brand’s health even though he was coming off a torn Achilles.
Stefanski didn’t care, either. Instead, he shelled out $82 million over 5 years to sign Brand, but he didn’t stop there. In search for a superstar perimeter player, Stefanski awarded Andre Iguodala with a fat $80 million deal of his own, hoping he would become Philly’s next All-Star AI.
Moving forward, here are some other questionable personnel decisions Stefanski made during his time in Philadunkia:
He traded Reggie Evans for Jason Kapono’s $6 million contract to sit on the bench for two seasons. He hired Eddie Jordan and Doug Collins to be the head coaches of young, athletic teams. He signed Royal Ivey…which led to Royal Ivey spending a second stint with the Sixers this season.
Bottom line: Stefanski never knew how to adequately build a team from top to bottom and a match a crop of players with a compatible coach.
In search of Philly’s next superstar, he paid Andre Iguodala, a defense-first swingman, money that a 25-point per game score-first closer makes. To find a rock in the paint, he added a hobbled, past-his-prime undersized power forward to a roster of run and gun players. He hired a head coach in Jordan whose Princeton offense never would have worked with those free-flowing players. Then, he hires Doug Collins for that same young core. A core that doesn’t respond the best to a preacher and responds better to fun, looser atmosphere.
Back in the spring of 2008, the fans and media in the Philadelphia talked about the state of the 76ers just like they are now. “This summer will set the tone for the next five years.” “We have some nice young pieces we just have to build around them.” “We have cap for this offseason, who should we bring in?”
The Sixers are only in this position this summer because Stefanski and the Ed, Ed and Eddie era failed to capitalize on the last core of young players. They failed to maximize the last opportunity and summer that could have launched the Sixers march to contention.
Yes, you can say that this team made the playoffs twice since Stefanski came to the City of Brotherly Love. But, they only won one round and they were never higher than a 6-seed in the lowly Eastern Conference. Yes, Stefanski drafted Jrue Holiday, the young piece this team is now so fortunate to build around, but he failed to bring in a coach and a supporting cast to maximize his talent (granted he was only in Philly for two of Jrue’s seasons).
Ed Stefanski failed to transition this organization from the Iverson era, and that has plagued this team to where they stand now. The Spurs smoothly transitioned from the David Robinson era to the Tim Duncan era. The Lakers have prepared to transition from the Kobe era by trading for Dwight Howard. Even the Denver Nuggets have been able to change their franchise’s face and remain relevant.
Now, we all make mistakes in life, so you can’t totally blame Stefanski for what happened to this franchise.
I just hope Joshua Harris and Adam Aron — who are now in the exact same position good ole Ed was in five years ago — will learn from the mistakes of the Ed, Ed and Eddie regime.
We don’t want history to repeat itself.
Jake Fischer is a Scribe for Philadunkia. You can follow him on Twitter @JakeLFischer.
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