Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 3/2/14
NBA commissioner Adam Silver not only defended the Philadelphia 76ers, but praised the organization's strategy for attempting to build a championship contender on Saturday, a day after former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy slammed the Sixers' apparent willingness to field a non-competitive team and tank a season to improve its draft stock while speaking at the annual Sloan Sports Conference at MIT in Boston. Van Gundy said all NBA teams should try to win every game, "not what Philadelphia is doing right now, which is embarrassing." "I don't care, Adam Silver can say there's no tanking or what's going on – if you're putting that roster on the floor, you're doing everything you can possibly do to try to lose," he said. The Sixers have just one player remaining from the team that advanced within a victory of playing in the 2012 NBA Eastern Conference Finals and have lost 12 consecutive games, 11 straight at home and 22 of their last 25 entering Saturday night's contest against the Washington Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center. They also dropped all 11 games in February, completing the franchise's first winless month since March 1973. "I don't agree with Coach Van Gundy at all," Silver said. "I just came from the locker room, I just spoke to the coach. It's an insult to the entire league to suggest that these guys are going out on the floor and aren't doing their very best to win games. … "You look at any business, you look at short-term results and long-term results," Silver said. "And if you told a business, if somebody told you a business was going to operate on a quarter-by-quarter [basis], you'd say, 'That's not the way to operate a business.' You'd say, 'You need a strategy. You need to look at the long-term.' And I think what this organization is doing is absolutely the right thing. What they're doing is planning for the future and building an organization from the ground level up. "And so, if you look at what's happened here over the last several years, it's badly needed," he said. "Somebody needs a plan. Somebody needs a vision to win here. And I think that's what's happening." First-year general manager Sam Hinkie began the rebuild by first swinging the wrecking ball during the 2013 NBA draft, when the Sixers traded All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday for injured rookie center Nerlens Noel, who is unlikely to play this season, and a first-round draft pick in 2014, which it will pair with its own high draft pick. The Sixers also drafted Rookie of the Year front-runner Michael Carter-Williams with the 11th overall pick. But the teardown continued at the Feb. 20 trade deadline, when Philadelphia dealt three veteran players, including starters Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes, in exchange for a handful of expiring contracts and second-round draft picks. Former Toronto Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo, also speaking at the conference Friday, admitted to trying to tank a season to improve his team's draft position. "I tried to tank a couple years ago," Colangelo said. "And I didn't come out and say, 'Coach, you've got to lose games.' I never said that. I wanted to establish a winning tradition and a culture and all of that. But I wanted to do it in the framework of playing the young players, and with that, comes losing. There's just no way to avoid that."
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