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PHILADELPHIA – Ellen DeGeneres used her monologue on Wednesday's show to speak right to heart of Philadelphia 76ers fans.
"I want to be a glow where it's gloomy," she said.
Around the NBA, no city is gloomier these days than Philadelphia. Turns out, she said, the Sixers are having a bad season.
And where did they get that name?
"I believe they're named after the 76 gas stations," she said.
And just like most of the 76ers' shots at the rim, it was a clunker.
She should have tried this one — "I believe they're named after the number of games they'll lose this season."
Of course, the Sixers would have to roll into quite the hot streak to win six games this season, so perhaps that one-liner aims a bit high for the worst franchise in sports this side of the Oakland Raiders.
The 76ers are the Hackey Sack of the NBA. Watch as Larry Brown kicks an insult to Eric Bledsoe who punts it to Fred Carter who may as well just let it drop to the court and let the other 31 NBA teams stomp and romp all over it.
Yes, the 76ers were supposed to be bad — the only one smiling after this 0-11 start is team president and tank mastermind Sam Hinkie — but this bad?
Using old school stats or modern analytics, the Sixers are the worst of the worst by any set of numbers.
The 76ers are only seven defeats from tying the 2009-10 Nets for the worst start in NBA history.
They have five more straight losses ahead to top the 1972-73 team for worst start (0-15) in Sixers' history and are the No. 1 contenders to wrest away the crown from those Sixers (9-73) as the worst 82-game season team in NBA history.
The Sixers are 15 straight losses away from matching an NBA record of 26 straight in a season held by ... set by ... c'mon, the answer is on the tip of your tongue ... Yes! The 2013-14 Philadelphia 76ers.
The Sixers have done so much deep-hole drilling on second-year coach Brett Brown's record, he'd need a Phil Jackson/Michael Jordan run to climb out and see .500 daylight.
The 76ers did get a boost this week when they signed the No. 1 pick of the draft! The D-League draft. Robert Covington simply took a roster spot that once belonged to a former All Star. Malcolm Thomas, a D-League All Star.
The 76ers have sold fans on the "Together We Build" slogan. But all they've built is a D-League team at NBA prices.
Around Philly, rebuilding has a different nickname: Tankadelphia.
Larry Brown, the vagabond coach who led the Sixers to the 2001 NBA finals, said the last two seasons have "made me sick to my stomach."
"Can you imagine telling Allen Iverson that this is a rebuilding season so we're going to be bad on purpose?" he said last month.
Bledsoe, the Phoenix Suns guard and former Kentucky standout, said Wednesday that the top-ranked Wildcats could defeat the 76ers.
That's certainly in doubt. But not Wednesday's result at the Wells Fargo Center: Boston Celtics 101, 76ers 90.
"We have to keep the locker room together," Brown said. "We have to keep our guys believing that if they don't cheat days, if they really come in and invest in what we're selling, then we believe we have a chance of finding some wins."
The Sixers play Friday against Bledsoe and the Suns, then hit the road Sunday against the 3-10 New York Knicks. Maybe the Knicks are the tonic for what ails the Sixers. It can't be worse than last week when the Sixers were thumped 100-75 against San Antonio and 123-70 against Dallas.
Carter, who played on that 1972-73 Sixers team and would coach the team in the 1990s, said this year's team is worse because of how open the franchise has been about the plan to hit bottom for a few seasons before potentially climbing back into contention with great draft picks.
"There was no intentional dumping. There was no plan to lose games to get better because people didn't think that way," Carter said. "Dump a whole season like what's being done now? It's really sickening to the stomach to hear and see that."
The 76ers hope a nucleus of Michael Carter-Williams, Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Dario Saric can become winners in three or four seasons.
In a column for Derek Jeter's new sports website, The Players' Tribune, Carter-Williams wrote that he escaped from the grind by watching "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" with his stepfather.
DeGeneres read the column, thanked MCW for watching, and said, "I'm sorry you're having a tough season." She said everyone on the Ellen team was rooting for him — and brought out characters like Giggles the Clown, Nick the Gardener, and Dave the Stagehand.
Somewhere, Hinkie had to wonder if he could sign them to 10-day contracts.
"Allen Iverson was figuratively castrated for saying, 'practice, practice, practice,'" Carter said. "What the organization is doing is intentionally losing. Losing, losing, losing.
"You tell me which is worse?"