In The Shadows Of LIberty, A New Era Begins For Sixers
With the birthplace of our nation mere yards away, the Sixers began a new era with the introduction for the first time of Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson at the National Constitution Center on Wednesday.
Like our forefathers who signed the Declaration of Independence across the street from here, the newest Sixers entered the National Constitution Center to thunderous applauds, along with chants of 'Beat LA, Beat LA' from hundreds of fans, invited by an organization quickly trying to reconnect with it's fanbase, that shook the foundation.
Bynum and Richardson, acquired in last Thursday's blockbuster four team trade, are the centerpiece of a Sixers team team that now sees itself as a legitimate Eastern Conference contender.
"Andrew [Bynum]," Sixers CEO Adam Aron said, beginning what was equal parts press conference, equal parts pep rally. "with you at our center, our future is bright."
The Sixers hope that Bynum's low post prowess not only provide dominance in the front court, but also the ability to score both in transition, and by slowing the pace down and grinding out tough inside buckets. Last season, the 7' 285 pound Bynum averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.
Head Coach Doug Collins knows the value of that kind of an inside presence.
"Our goal is to develop Andrew into the best offensive low post man in the league," Collins said. "When we have guys that can shoot in Jason [Richardson] and Evan [Turner], it's now a luxury to have Andrew down in the low block and we can continue to feed the ball into him, to get points off the glass.."
Bynum arguably is the most talented center since the Sixers acquired Moses Malone, but that isn't a comparison the 24-year old is shying away from.
"I'm definitely used to those kind of comparisons, playing in LA and in the footsteps of Kareem," Bynum explained. "Yes, there's pressure here, but pressure makes diamonds."
Richardson, meanwhile, immediately fills the void of an outside shooting swingman that will thrive as Bynum commands the attention from defenses on the inside.
"I was excited," Richardson said after the press conference. "I played with Dwight Howard last year, and that got me ready to play with Andrew this year. We have a young team that can run, it's exciting and I'm really looking forward to getting out there with the rest of the guys."
Despite the fact that Bynum is in the final year of his deal, Sixers President Rod Thorn said, that this was a risk that the team had to take.
"From everything we've heard, Andrew really is an East Coast guy," Thorn explained. "We can offer him more money than anyone else, and if we play well, we have a really good chance [of signing Bynum long term]."
The Sixers can offer Bynum the Larry Bird Maximum contract at season's end, five years at $103 million, which is more than any team in the rest of the league can put on the table (four years, $94 million). During his City of Brotherly love welcome, Bynum gave a hint of where his thinking is.
"From everything I've seen and my first experiences being so great," Bynum began. "I'm really leaning towards making this my long-term home."
Time will tell if the good feelings felt by all on Wednesday afternoon will translate into on the court success, and a long-term love affair with a superstar and a championship starved city. But for a day, the bright lights of a new era shown on the Sixers, their fans and the city of Philadelphia.
This article was written by 97.3 ESPN FM Sixers Beat Reporter, Matt Lombardo: Follow him on twitter: @MattLombardoPHL