The Post Game Show

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Sixers Waive A Lifelong Family Member

It looked like just another transaction in the L, another blip in the League's afterglow of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, but to Sixers fans and Philly residents, it was a bittersweet goodbye to a family member. Aaron McKie, North Philly born and bred, who gave all he had to the Sixers organization the last seven and a half years, was waived Friday as the Sixers' one-time salary cap relief move the NBA's new CBA now provides teams with. The Sixers took that money and signed capable back up center Steven Hunter, which does make more sense in the grand scheme of things, but to folks like me, who appreciated the contributions of whoever put on a Sixer uniform, it's a painful thing to see. In the early 90's, McKie teamed up with Eddie Jones at Temple, playing the game John Chaney's way in the last years of venerable old McGonigle Hall, to limited success however. McKie was then drafted by the pre-JailBlazers of Portland, who still had Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter, so understandably, he sat.

That was before a draft night trade with the Pistons brought him to the Motor City with Wyoming center Theo Ratliff, and McKie became an important part of a budding Detroit team which featured a healthy and unstoppable Grant Hill at that time. The Pistons made the playoffs in back to back years with McKie on the team, but early in the 1997-98 season, the Philadelphia 76ers saw that the combination of Allen Iverson and Jerry Stackhouse wasn't going to work, so Larry Brown pulled the trigger, sending Stackhouse to the D for McKie, Ratliff, and Eric Montross.

Montross didn't last long, but Ratliff and McKie, along with Iverson and Eric Snow (who came from Seattle later that season) became the celebrated Sixers nucleus which accounted for a much needed hoops revival in the city of brotherly love. One of my favorite memories during the Sixers title contender days was the 2000 Eastern Conference first round series with the Then-Charlotte Hornets. The Sixers had a 2-1 series lead (the first round was best of five back then), and could close out the Hornets in Game Four.

Charlotte led by I believe as many as 12 in that game, but the Sixers came back to take the lead and needed another basket to put the Hornets away. Of course Charlotte concetrated on A.I., so McKie was running around, and found his spot at the three point line close to the Charlotte bench. You could almost see Hornets coach Paul Silas saying "Oh Shit" as McKie rose and let fly with David Wesley flying at him. Wesley got McKie on the elbow and the whistle blew for a foul call, as the ball swished through the net, sending the Wachovia Center into pure delirium. The Sixers won the game and the series, and McKie started getting a reputation as a clutch performer.

That rep continued the next year when he won the Sixth Man of the year, as the Sixers won a bunch of awards and made the NBA finals for the first time since 1983. Since then, McKie had been dogged by injuries and up and comers like Willie Green and Kyle Korver, and Friday was the culmination of the story of "Blue" as a Sixer.

It almost is like your mom and dad or another couple in your family getting divorced. Although it may be amicable, it doesn't make it any less painful that it's come to this. Maybe this is the end of Aaron McKie's career. Maybe it's not. But whatever the case, Philly should stand up and show one of its own Brothers unconditional love for what he acheived on and off the court.


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