The Philadelphia 76ers have been waiting almost 30 years to prevail in the NBA Finals. But Sixers fans like myself are enduring the second-shortest title drought in Philadelphia, behind the Flyers and the Eagles. Yet while Philadelphia is still enduring some long stretches without a championship, others outside of the city are finally getting lucky - with LeBron James the latest to do so.
James has only waited nine years to win in the NBA Finals, but that is an eternity for a superstar individual - especially one like himself. Yet his drought finally ended with one last win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on June 21, which is expected to open the floodgates for him and the Miami Heat. This means if the Heat can get all the championships that they promised, it should stop the Sixers from getting just one for a while longer.
The Sixers came very close to facing the Heat and James in the Eastern Conference Finals, yet fell one win short of knocking off the Boston Celtics. No matter what happened after that, Philadelphia would still have a long way to go to become a real championship contender. But now that Miami is finally a champion, the path through the East for every other team has become much more difficult.
As such, the Sixers will likely soon enter a third consecutive decade without an NBA title, although it isn't the most publicized drought in Philadelphia. The Flyers and Eagles have inspired more frustration over the years - especially the Flyers this past season.
This is manly due to how several former Flyers led the Los Angeles Kings towards breaking their 45-year-old Stanley Cup drought, while Philadelphia got knocked out in the second round. In fact, the Flyers won two less games than the Sixers did in the NBA playoffs, despite how Philadelphia's hockey team had far greater title hopes. Meanwhile, ex-Flyers like Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne got a ring right after they escaped to the Kings.
It seems to be easier for franchises and superstars outside of Philadelphia to win overdue titles lately. Meanwhile, the Sixers may still have the longest odds of any local team to get the city's next championship, despite the strides they made in this postseason. And with the Heat taking an even greater stranglehold on the East and the NBA - and with James now officially a King - those odds just got a little bit longer.
The Sixers are used to waiting a long time for rings, as it took years of playoff collapses and near-misses before they won their two titles in 1967 and 1983. Therefore, this current Philadelphia team needs to be an annual playoff contender before it can think of winning it all. Meanwhile, those outside of Philadelphia who are still waiting to be champions likely don't need to be that patient, if this summer is an indication.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and 76ers fan.
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