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The second annual Enemies of the Process rankings (let’s just forget about that year in between ‘em) has come and gone, with no shortage of surprises, controversies and generally seething bitterness in their unveiling. Before we go full freaky outie over this offseason -- and seriously, if Sixers Twitter is gonna have a panic attack whenever anything is reported to do with anyone in free agency, we might not even make it to June 30 -- it seemed like a good idea to put a bow on this year’s list with some closing thoughts that didn’t make it to the podcast.
Here’s ten of ‘em. Know your Enemies.
1. In the timeless words of the great Marreese Speights, S/o to #dougcollins. Spike suggested we needed to include Doug Collins in the voting for this year’s rankings, but I vetoed, insisting that he was barely involved with the Process to begin with and certainly hadn’t done much to re-establish his villainy over the last two years. However, given his position as a formative enemy of the pre-Process era -- even though I never hated him as much as some -- I suggested maybe we could name the whole thing after him. The Doug Collins Memorial Enemies of the Process Rankings? Dunno, feels pretty right.
2. It’s funny how long we gave Bryan Colangelo the benefit of the doubt for. As much as he’s come to be vilified for everything that’s gone wrong with the Sixers in the post-Hinkie years -- as well as for his fashion choices and domestic priorities -- in our 2017 rankings, over halfway into his Sixers tenure and after the Nerlens Noel trade and Jahlil Okafor deadline fumble officially revealed the front office to be a clown show, he didn’t even place. For as long as he was in power, we really wanted to believe he was merely snake progeny, not a grass-lurker himself. If not for Burnergate a year ago, maybe we’d still be trying to find a way to defend him today.
3. I alluded to this on the pod, but it’s also funny how many of our biggest enemies used to be disapproving, shit-talking rival coaches -- kinda shows how generally unworthy we were of having actual player enemies at the time. Doug Collins, Stan Van Gundy, George Karl and Larry Brown all made our previous rankings, and Luke Walton just missed the cut. None of those guys made the cut this time -- nor did any other opposing NBA coaches -- and none of those guys are still coaching in the NBA. The Process moves on and lives on.
4. Speaking of player enemies, though: It’s striking how much the Celtics still tower over all other rival squads. The Raptors just took us a brutal, bloody seven-game series, led by a guy who outperformed everyone but Bill Hader this May and then broke our hearts with one of the most devastating game-winning plays in Philly sports history. And yet I can think of at least four Celtics I’d easily consider bigger Enemies of the Process than anyone on Toronto, and that’s before even getting into their management or celebrity spokespeople. Hard to imagine another Eastern Conference franchise getting to that level in the near future, even if the C’s fall apart following this summer. Respect to Shamrocks and Shenanigans Nation.
5. I was surprised that we couldn’t really find a respectable social media enemy to fill the spot that HoopsCritic took on our initial rankings. If anything, it seems like Sixers Twitter mostly fought amongst itself in the past year -- particularly as the team’s late-season struggles threatened to lead to civil war among the Process Phaithful over Ben Simmons’ jumper, Jimmy Butler’s motivations, Brett Brown’s ability to get the team to the next level. But though some relationships may have become frayed, it’s hard to say anyone from inside the fanbase has gone so off the deep end as to deserve inclusion on a list like this. Or Sixers Twitter might just be losing its edge, for better or worse.
6. I think maybe we’ve forgotten about just how dick-swingingly smug Drew Hanlen was about his work with Markelle Fultz over the season. Not only were there the vague “Sixers fans… Get excited!” tweets (since deleted!), which on their own might’ve been forgivable, but there were the shit-eating-grin podcast interviews where he talked about negging Fultz with Jayson Tatum comparisons and promises that his shot “can’t get worse,” and quoted himself as proclaiming to Fultz “Hey Markelle, listen, you’re going to make me really famous, and you’re going to make me a lot of money when I fix your shot and can sell your program."
The dude really put it all on himself, essentially transferring the scrutiny and pressure that should’ve been on Fultz’s shoulders -- maybe in a semi-literal sense, if you believe Fultz’s self-diagnosis -- onto his own. Admirable in theory, and maybe it could’ve worked. But after a brief period of improved confidence and shooting, Fultz lost his way again, Hanlen grew uncomfortable with the situation and washed his hands of the whole thing, and now the guy who we spent two lottery picks on plays in Orlando, with only Jonathan Simmons, a second-rounder and a possibly disappearing late-first-rounder from OKC to show for the whole experience.
“He's not just a trainer to Sixers fans at this point: He's a rainmaker, promising salvation in the midst of a tough offseason drought,” I wrote in conclusion about Hanlen last July. “And if he can't deliver, he should know to expect to be chased by angry Process townsfolk for the rest of his career.” It’s only been a year, are we really letting him tweet about the Blues championship in total peace already?
7. My explanation-free prediction for five folks who might join or rise in the Enemies rankings in the next year or two:
Bojan and Bogdan Bogdanovic
8. Will there ever be a former Sixer Enemy of the Process -- an Enemy on The Shirt, even? Sort of impressive that it hasn’t happened yet, really: Even former disappointments and/or malcontents like Okafor and Mike Muscala ultimately feel too benign to be given such a branding. Could it be Fultz, if he surges in Orlando and has some choice words to share about his time in Philadelphia after? Jimmy Butler if he leaves in the offseason and gives a half-dozen annoying interviews making a big deal of sharing his pettiest reasons for why? Spencer Hawes if he becomes the Republican candidate for Washington senate? Exciting and terrifying to contemplate.
9. For me, the easiest route to Process Enemy status will always be through Joel Embiid. I’m still so protective of JoJo that players don’t have to get into active confrontation with him to become branded villains -- they just have to have the nerve to get compared to him, or worse, finish above him in any media votes or player rankings. Malcolm Brogdon, of course, but I also would’ve voted for both Nikola Jokic and Rudy Gobert in this year’s rankings -- or maybe Marc Gasol just for the gumption Toronto showed in trading for him to be an Embiid stopper (and worse, the fact that they were in any way validated for doing so). And as obvious a No. 1 as Bryan Colangelo seems at the moment, without the negative burner tweets about Embiid (and our big man’s own pissed-off response) he might’ve still had at least an outside shot at redemption. Now, that top spot is his to lose for the foreseeable future.
10. Could anyone else rise to No. 1 on next year’s rankings, though? Jerry C is probably too far out of the picture to really be a factor, and unless Brogdon and Embiid somehow finish 1-2 in next year’s MVP rankings, the former’s probably not a true contender either. It’ll probably be up to the Commish to pull some really shady shit against the Sixers -- to somehow continue changing the rules to shift the balance of power in the league away from us, while openly besmirching Our Once and Always Dark Lord Sam Hinkie’s name in public. Either that or Dr. Daniel Medina growing into some kind of Gotham supervillain and swearing his vengeance against the Sixers organization might be the only thing standing in the way of Bryan Colangelo enjoying a dynastic run atop the Enemies of the Process rankings.