Ball Don't Lie

After denying fans a chance at a free cheeseburger, 76ers coach Doug Collins promises to pay for 18,000 fans’ free sandwiches

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Doug Collins points out that 'secret sauce' is really just Thousand Island dressing (Getty Images)

On Friday night Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins defiantly thumbed his nose at one of our least-favorite NBA traditions – the fast food “earning” ticket giveaways that teams usually provide to fans if the home team scores over 100 points.

With nine of the NBA’s 30 teams averaging over 100 points a contest, a number sure to rise as the NBA typically improves offensively as the season moves on, it’s not exactly a marvel when teams hit triple-digits. And yet several NBA teams offer a take on this promotion, which leaves teams in the tricky and often embarrassing situation of having to score needless points at the end of either safe wins or blowout losses in order to satisfy the home crowd’s craving for something they’re usually embarrassed to eat. With his Sixers already up 99-80 over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, Collins demanded guard Evan Turner dribble out the clock so not to show up their opponent, and the always on-point Philadelphia crowd responded with boos.

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Not willing to quit while he was ahead, though, Collins told the public address announcer that he’d “make up” for it out of pocket. From the Associated Press’ Dan Gelston, via several previous outfits:

Doug Collins has always come off as the sort of basketball type that sticks to his principles, so the move to ask Turner to eat the possession, so to speak, makes sense.

Paying for the fast food burger himself? As other outlets have noted, this would cost Collins well over $72,000, while providing the Sixers with the lamest logistical nightmare on record – tracking down thousands of petulant fans who feel as if the home town team’s blowout win is somewhat invalidated because they didn’t get a free 600 calories to chomp down upon.

There’s so much fault to go around here that it’s hard to ponder as to where to start. Collins has always readily worn his emotions on his sleeve, so the push/pull of both not taking a needless shot at the end of an assured win and disappointing his team’s fans was likely just as strong on both sides, which is why he reacted the way he did.

Secondly, there’s Jason Richardson – a player that missed both of his free throws in the win. Let’s get it together, J-Rich.

Third, there are the fans.

Yes, the people that make it all possible. The people amongst those 18,000 attending who care more about that burger than that win, or that expertly-executed Collins-styled out of bounds play from the third quarter. Honestly, look at some of the older kids in this clip – getting an expensive 76ers jersey, a seat in the lower bowl thousands of any age could never well afford, and seeing your team take its opponent behind the shed wasn’t enough? You have to get a free burger?

I didn’t go to a ton of pro-level sports events growing up, but I know what it’s like to be the brat. I wanted nachos. I looked lustily at that rack full of 26 Major League Baseball hats for sale. I wanted some more nachos. I get it. Standing with arms wide-open as your team defies what you’ve rightfully earned? Grabbing a towel a player is using without asking? Come on, kids. More importantly, as one myself, come on … parents.

Lastly, come on … teams.

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Other organizations, such as the Chicago Bulls, have willfully acted brain dead on this issue for years, not caring a lick as its prideful and defensive-minded players are routinely booed by fans (that ones in attendance that know the names of only a few of those prideful, defensive-minded players) when the team fails to score 100 points. Sick of it all, it’s why Joakim Noah attempted a needless three-pointer at the end of a win over Orlando earlier this season and was widely criticized for acting in a situation he couldn’t possibly win. Sportsmanship, yeah, but it stinks to be booed after dominating a blowout win that saw you contribute 20 points and nine rebounds (even if Noah shouldn’t have been on the court at the end of that blowout).

The 76ers are more pro-active than Chicago, as one of their owners often converses with fans on Twitter. He sees the complaints, and he knows the game. Give burgers out all you want – but pair them with defensive benchmarks, instead of that uncreative 100-point barrier. NBA teams have to stop pushing their players and coaches into this position – a position that needlessly reminds them that even after two and a half hours of hard work, they’re more often regarded as entertainers instead of athletes.

Or fast-food deliverymen.

None of this helps Collins, though, who is on the hook for probably the heftiest fast food dinner in modern history, non-recreational drug use cases aside.

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