Sixers owner Josh Harris told reporters Friday that he's proud of what the 19-63 Philadelphia 76ers accomplished this season despite losing 26 in a row.
"I think the season has been a huge success for us," Harris said in an Associated Press story on Friday.
Give Harris credit for his honesty. The Sixers hold two lottery picks (one via a trade) and never were shy about admitting they had to tank -- make that, rebuild -- this season in order to start their hopeful championship track.
"We don't use that word," Harris said of tanking.
He said losing was tough for everyone in the organization, but this season was never about the final record.
"We don't want to be 41-41. We don't want to be one-and-done," Harris said. "We want this team, this city to be proud of the Sixers. We want to be proud of the Sixers."
Philadelphia had little reason to feel proud this season. But the Sixers could at least be hopeful with what's ahead. Michael Carter-Williams, a 6-foot-6, 185-pound point guard, is the leading rookie of the year contender and played like a future All-Star. He was selected Eastern Conference rookie of the month Friday for the fourth time this season.
Nerlens Noel, the rookie center who sat out all season as he recovered from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, dazzled coaches with his work ethic and workouts all season.
Harris said the Sixers need at least two to four elite players to become a player again in the NBA. Could two lottery picks plus Noel and Carter-Williams serve as the ingredients in the magic formula that helps lead the Sixers to their first championship since 1983?
"All these pieces are in place to make this an elite team that will compete consistently for the NBA championship," Harris said. "There's no shortcuts to it. Unfortunately, it takes a long time. I'm really happy with the progress."
There's not much else Harris could say, and in reality, he's right. The Sixers tried being "competitive" for going on six years, floating in mediocrity and never making a serious run. They needed a transcendent player to go forward, and they hope to get it in this draft.
It's refreshing to see an owner be that honest and realistic about building an NBA team. And they do have some talent here. But it does look funny to hear a 19-game season described as a "success."