When is that press release coming? Today? Tomorrow? Next week? Never?
This has been a contentious debate in the Crossing Broad Slack channel. One faction believes the Sixers need to say or do something immediately while the other faction believes that ownership doesn’t really care about the negative press and is operating on its own timeline.
For instance, with the former idea, Scott O’Neil could get in front of a camera and say, “we understand this is serious and we want to let everyone know that we will provide information as soon as our investigation is complete.” Does that do anything for you? Does that assuage concerns? Or is just a reiteration of what was already said in the Wednesday press release? Are they just kicking the can down the road?
In my experience, sports franchises and big corporations don’t really care what’s being said about them on social media or in the press. Why? Because shit is always being said about them on social media or in the press. They generally like to work within their own time frame and generally disregard the outside world.
That’s not to say that the Sixers don’t care about their fans. I don’t think that’s true. I just think that we as outsiders overrate and overvalue perceived external pressures being placed on the team. I don’t think Josh Harris is sitting there saying, “crap.. Twitter figured it out, we need to get a move on here.” That’s not how these people think.
That said, do the Sixers have some sort of crisis on their hands? I don’t know, so I dialed up a PR contact, who recently left the business, for some input on this story and how the Sixers should proceed. Here’s a paraphrased explanation of what he/she said:
“In similar situations, our staff will have a plan in place, ready to act, but you’ll likely get a call from a CEO or a a minority owner and the plan gets derailed and the PR staff can’t execute it on their time frame. People can say you have a ‘PR problem’ and you need to make a PR statement, but there are forces above that cut you off at the knees. Until the Sixers have the facts, its just an ownership decision, but if you let it drag on over the weekend it gets messy. You don’t want to overreact and make a statement then have to backtrack. I’m sure Sixers PR has a plan in place and just has to wait for ownership to act. But you can’t be bullied by the outside world, if you let that influence you, you’ve already taken the loss. We’re just the shield, we don’t make the actual decisions.”
Another PR contact explained to me that doing the Friday or weekend news dump is nothing more than just burying the news:
“My biggest fear would be them devoting time to it on ABC during pregame of game two of the finals, so you’d want some buffer for that. Either way, it’s obviously not going to turn out great. It’s headline news the second it comes out. So maybe you just break the news yourself as soon as you’re done. Saturday night, late, is probably the best.”
And a third person from the TV world:
“I think you’d want to get stuff buttoned up before putting anything out there. And if they do want information out there, they’ll just feed it to the media under the table anyway… One reason maybe you wouldn’t (do something now) is if you want to have immediate availability with executives, and it would be better to release something Monday and already have something lined up for media.”
My opinion: people flip flop and change their minds and forget about things all the time. Every oil spill or school shooting or national tragedy that pops up always runs its course. We do a poor job of remembering things as a society, and that’s especially true in Philadelphia, where once Gabe Kapler wins a few games, we forget that people were calling for his firing in early April. Think about the Markelle Fultz situation, where people direly wanted to know what the hell was going on with his shoulder, then scolded the media for asking about his shoulder when he finally returned to the floor. Things cycle very quickly in this day and age.
Obviously there isn’t a prior Sixers’ precedent for a case involving serious allegations made against a high-ranking executive. It’s not like you go to the public relations handbook and flip to the chapter that says, “President of Basketball Operations accused of using five burner accounts.” Usually that type of executive would be involved in the PR strategy involving something similar with a coach or a player, but in this case he’s the topic of the investigation, so what now? You have to re-organize from the top down and get ownership more involved than they normally would be.
For the hell of it, I went through the inbox to see if I could find any patterns of how the Sixers officially release their information. As a general theme, very few emails come out in the morning. Most of what they do comes in the afternoon.
Here’s how they distribute most of the injury and negative information:
Sunday, October 8th, 11:48 a.m. – Richaun Holmes medical update
“The Philadelphia 76ers announced today that forward Richaun Holmes has been diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture in the radial bone of his left wrist. The injury occurred at the 1:37 mark in the third quarter of Friday night’s game vs. Boston.
He will be re-evaluated in approximately three weeks.”
This happened during the preseason. The Eagles kicked off against the Cardinals later that day.
Sunday, October 29th, 4:11 p.m. – Markelle Fultz medical update
“Following consultation with several shoulder specialists, including a visit with Dr. Ben Kibler, Medical Director of the Shoulder Center of Kentucky at the Lexington Clinic earlier today, 76ers guard Markelle Fultz will be out indefinitely with soreness and scapular muscle imbalance in his right shoulder. The visit further confirmed that there is no structural impairment to the shoulder, and he will continue his physiotherapy treatment. Fultz will be reevaluated by Dr. Kibler in approximately three weeks.”
The Eagles were playing the 49ers at home when this release went out. The Sixers played on the Saturday and Monday before and after this Sunday, and I believe there was an afternoon practice session that few reporters attended, since half were at Lincoln Financial Field.
Friday, November 17th, 3:11 p.m. – Covington contract extension
“President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo announced today that the Philadelphia 76ers have restructured the terms of forward Robert Covington’s contract for the current season and signed Covington to a multi-year contract extension…”
Friday, November 17th, 5:52 p.m. – Justin Anderson medical update
“Justin Anderson is experiencing tibial stress syndrome, commonly known as shin splints, in his left leg. He is out and will be reevaluated in approximately three weeks.”
So they paired these two pieces of news together and did the positive Cov contract a few hours before the negative Anderson injury news, which was dumped right before 6 p.m. on a fall Friday. The team had returned from a five game west coast road trip on Thursday and hosted Golden State the following Saturday.
Sunday, November 19th, 12:53 p.m. – Markelle Fultz medical update
“Philadelphia 76ers guard Markelle Fultz was examined and evaluated today by Dr. Ben Kibler, Medical Director of the Shoulder Center of Kentucky at the Lexington Clinic, for the soreness and scapular muscle imbalance that he has been experiencing in his right shoulder. The soreness is dissipating and the muscle balance is improving, and Fultz will continue with physiotherapy and begin progressing toward full basketball activities. Fultz will be re-evaluated in approximately two to three weeks. His return to gameplay will be determined by how the shoulder responds to progressive basketball training and practices in the interim.”
Another Sunday Fultz update, this on the day when the Eagles were playing in Dallas.
Saturday, December 9th, 12:50 p.m. – Medical updates
Anderson is continuing his recovery from tibial stress syndrome, commonly known as shin splints, in his left leg. After undergoing a program focused on rest, physical therapy, and limited on-court work the past few weeks, he will now resume increased physical activities, including conditioning and basketball training. Anderson will be reevaluated in approximately two weeks.
Fultz is no longer experiencing soreness in his right shoulder and the scapular muscle imbalance is resolved. He will continue ongoing physical therapy and maintenance, while participating in increased strength and conditioning training and elevated on-court basketball activities. The 76ers medical team, in coordination with Dr. Ben Kibler, will gauge his readiness in approximately three weeks.”
This release went out sometime after shootaround on the morning of a Cleveland road game.
Sunday, December 17th, 2:04 p.m. – Korkmaz Lisfranc injury
“The Philadelphia 76ers announced today that guard-forward Furkan Korkmaz suffered a Lisfranc injury (midfoot) of his left foot resulting from a play at 3:02 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Sevens game on Dec. 15. Korkmaz was recalled from the Delaware 87ers of the NBA G League, and further evaluation and testing is underway. He is out indefinitely, and an update will be provided when appropriate.”
This came out two days after the 87ers game before the Sixers were set to fly to Chicago. Eagles at Giants.
Tuesday, January 2nd, 1:55 p.m. – Markelle Fultz medical update
“Philadelphia 76ers guard Markelle Fultz has been cleared to begin the final stage of his return-to-play program. The program consists of gradual re-integration into team practices and training, complemented with additional conditioning work to support fitness readiness for gameplay.”
One of the few Fultz updates that came out on a weekday.
Tuesday, January 16th, 7:59 p.m. – JJ Redick medical update
“With 4:37 remaining in the fourth quarter of last night’s game, JJ Redick sustained an injury to his left leg resulting from contact with an opponent. He underwent X-rays following the game last night, which were negative. An MRI was performed late this afternoon that revealed bone edema and a small cortical crack in the fibular head of his left leg. Redick is out and will be re-evaluated in approximately 10 days to two weeks.”
7:59 pm. is really late, but they released this less than 24 hours after the injury happened.
Saturday, March 31st, 5:20 p.m. – Joel Embiid medical update
“Earlier today, Joel Embiid underwent successful surgery to address a fractured orbital bone in his left eye as a result of a collision in Wednesday night’s game against New York. The surgery was performed by Dr. Jurij R. Bilyk, an orbital/oculoplastics surgeon from Wills Eye Hospital, and Dr. Howard Krein, a plastic/reconstructive head and neck surgeon from Jefferson University Hospital.There is currently no timetable for Joel’s recovery, and Joel will return to play when it is safe and medically advisable. Joel will have a post-operative examination in approximately 5-7 days, and further updates will be provided as appropriate.”
This was three days after the injury happened and the release went out while the Phillies were playing the Braves.
Friday, April 6th, 5:08 p.m. – Joel Embiid medical update
“Joel Embiid underwent a post-operative examination by Dr. Jurij R. Bilyk and Dr. Howard Krein following successful surgery last Saturday to address the fractured orbital bone in his left eye. The surgeons were pleased with how the affected area is presenting to date and will determine when it is safe and medically advisable for Embiid to return to play.With regards to the concussion he sustained, Embiid was cleared by an independent neurologist earlier this week. In order to complete the NBA’s concussion protocol, Embiid is now slated to begin the non-contact cardiovascular exertion steps required.There is no timetable for Embiid’s return to play. Further updates will be provided as appropriate.”
This release went out right before Brett Brown did his pregame availability in the big win against the Cavaliers.
Anyway, I don’t if you can draw anything really conclusive from that. You see some patterns, like injury information coming out on the weekends or being dumped during or before Eagles games. Rarely did anything come out in the morning, so it seems like most things were just released on the fly, as the information was gathered and written up. It didn’t seem like there was a lot of stuff that was deliberately scheduled for the morning. Everything could, of course, be coincidental.
For what it’s worth, the Belinelli and Ilyasova signings were both announced well after 5 p.m., so it feels like they just put those out when the paperwork cleared.
But I tend to agree with what my first contact said – the four guys in the Sixers’ PR department are sort of at the mercy of ownership here and can’t really do much of anything unless their superiors are on board. So if we’re going to say the Sixers have a PR crisis, you would probably have to spread the blame around or at least say that it starts at the top and trickles down from there.