The Philadelphia 76ers kick-off their second-round series on Monday night against the Boston Celtics on the road. In a year where many thought a playoff berth would be deemed a success, expectations have been raised and some believe this Sixers team has the talent to reach the NBA Finals. But aside from their magnificent run to 50 wins and the third seed in the East, the Sixers organization has been rumored to be one of the teams that LeBron James will consider this summer.
There seems to be a divide among Philadelphia fans when it comes to James, who many consider to be the best player in the entire world. On one side, fans want a championship. Heck, they want multiple championships. How can you blame them? The Sixers haven't brought a title home to Philadelphia since the 1980's and their last finals appearance was in 2001. After years of losing during The Process, this is the first Sixers team to have the talent to make noise in the league and adding LeBron to that would definitely give Golden State and Houston a run for their money on a yearly basis.
On the other hand, there are some fans who want to see this team win without needing one of the best players to ever step on an NBA court. In addition that that factor, many believe that adding James to the mix would somewhat stunt the growth of rookie phenom Ben Simmons. Both Simmons and James are primary ball-handlers, and it would be hard to believe that the Sixers would sacrifice Ben's development just to add LeBron to the mix. Simmons and LeBron both need the ball in their hands to create, but Ben could definitely give James good opportunities for open scores as well, like he does for his current teammates.
Former Philadephia 76er and current TNT analyst Charles Barkley weighed in on the LeBron to Philly movement in an interview with 97.5 The Fanatic this morning and Chuck doesn't think there is any chance that the 15-year-veteran joins the Sixers this summer. Here's a snippet of his interview courtesy of Philly.com.
“LeBron won’t fit with the Sixers because he’d take the ball out of Ben’s hands,” Barkley said, referring to Ben Simmons. Barkley was emphatic that James wouldn’t be taking his talents to Philadelphia “in any form, shape or capacity.”
“He needs shooters. Ben’s not a shooter. … [LeBron] dominates the ball way too much,” Barkley said. “He’s not coming to Philly for sure.”
With the Sixers starting their second-round series this week, the LeBron to Philly talk should be on the backburner, but it will be back in full force before we know it. As for Philadelphia's semifinals matchup with Boston, Barkley said he'd be disappointed if they didn't win the series and that they should be able to finish them off in as little as five games.
The Sixers and Celtics tip-off for Game 1 in Boston at 8pm on TNT.