The Philadelphia 76ers owners might finally be sick of all that losing.
According to Forbes, Josh Harris and David Blitzer want to “flip” the franchise to focus on putting an NFL team in London. The pair also own the New Jersey Devils and recently invested in Crystal Palace Football Club in London, hoping to “get to know the market,” according to Forbes.
Harris and Blitzer now rank as two of the three top investors in Palace, along with club chairman Steve Parish. The two Americans have much bigger plans.
“They’re more interested in getting the NFL in London than they are in the NBA,’’ the source said. “Their No. 1 goal is to get the NFL team in London. They want to flip the Sixers anyway.’’
Harris and Blitzer agreed to buy the Sixers in July 2011. The team made the playoffs during the new owners’ first season but have been under .500 every year since, including 18-64 last year and 1-21 so far this year.
Of course, given how NBA economics works, these owners of one of the worst teams in NBA history will probably be much wealthier when they sell the team than they were when they bought it.
76ers owner Josh Harris spends days taking distressed businesses & adds value. Sixers are 2.5X more valuable in 4 years of ownership.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) December 8, 2015
For a Philadelphia fanbase that has heard about “the process” for several years, it must be a bit frustrating to hear about the owners getting ready to jump ship. The Sixers are tumbling toward another top-three pick, and how this year’s lottery plays out could determine the franchise’s future. Add Ben Simmons to the existing core of Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid (or whomever one of those guys fetches in a trade) and you’ve got the makings of perennial playoff team. But miss out on this year’s pick and the whole “process” gets pushed back another year or two.
Harris and Blitzer are either impatiently giving up right before the rebuild pays off or shrewdly abandoning a hopeless franchise.
Meanwhile, these two are apparently focusing their efforts on bringing an NFL team to London, which is probably even further away than the Sixers making the playoffs. The league has played a number of games across the pond in recent year, including three each of the past two years and will continue the series each of the next three years.
Momentum does seem to be building toward an American football team in the UK. The two games played in London this year averaged 83,877 in attendance. Even though they novelty would wear off, a franchise there would still be in the biggest market of any NFL team. Harris and Blitzer apparently want to be the ones to make it happen.