2012 NBA Playoffs: Where's the Respect for the 76ers?

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 18: Andre Iguodala #9 of the Philadelphia 76ers goes up for a dunk during the game against the Boston Celtics in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Wells Fargo Center on May 18, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Sixers won 92-83. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Everything you have heard is true.

The Philadelphia 76ers are young, inexperienced and don't possess a superstar. Although their performance in Game 5 wasn't pretty, the 76ers are a rare breed in today's NBA.

It's no secret that the 76ers don't have a superstar, but they use that perceived weakness to their advantage. One of the deepest teams in the NBA, the Sixers have found a way to compete with a cast of role players who have been written off time and time again.

Throughout the second round of the NBA playoffs, the common theme has been the experience of the Boston Celtics versus the youth of the 76ers. Youth may not be served when this series comes to a close, but the Sixers have proven to a national audience that they are a team that's unafraid of more experienced and talented squads.

If the Sixers have staked their claim as one of the league's premier young groups, why then, are they constantly being written off?

Throughout a season full of ups and downs, the Sixers received little publicity and have been heavily criticized as a team that was just lucky to slip by the battered Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs.

Apparently, none of the Sixers' wins this postseason have come by virtue of solid team defense and distribution on offense. Instead of crediting the Sixers with wins, the general feeling has been that the Bulls and Celtics simply didn't bring it, and they gave the games away.

I'm well aware that this is a league that's run by star power, but just because the Sixers have more players who have sneaker contracts with Converse than with with Nike doesn't make their wins any less valid.

The NBA is also a league that is enamored with youth.

If the NBA is looking for a perennial playoff contender in the Eastern Conference for years to come, look no further than the Philadelphia 76ers. It may not be pretty, but they're headed in the right direction.