The Philadelphia 76ers fanbase can be accused of a lot of things, but a lack of passion is certainly not at the top of the list. Evan Turner knows that firsthand after the time he spent suiting up for his former team.
Even during a season filled with tanking through the sheer inadequacy of the roster, the Sixers faithful have remained highly involved in their team's endeavors. They may not show up to the Wells Fargo Center in droves, and they may boo players relentlessly, but you can't say they aren't passionate.
"Fickle" is the word that describes them quite often, but only in terms of emotions.
Play well and the world is your oyster in the City of Brotherly Love. Play poorly and those same fans will swarm around you, bringing down the full force of vengeance from a group that a co-worker recently described as one "that eats its young and boos Santa Claus."
Turner can testify:
Evan Turner on Sixers tenure: "Sometimes the gun was pointed at me. Sometimes I didn't do the best job, either."— Christopher A. Vito (@ChrisVito) March 14, 2014
The young swingman spent the first few seasons of his career in Philadelphia before a deadline deal shipped him off to the Indiana Pacers. And of those go-rounds, this was by far the most...interesting.
Not only did Turner receive the most responsibility of his career, being counted on for large offensive contributions night in and night out, but he also had to deal with incessant losing and competing for the worst record in the Association.
Fortunately, Turner also revealed that he was treated with respect by the organization after he was no longer permitted to wear a Philadelphia jersey:
Evan Turner said #Sixers GM Sam Hinkie drove with him to the airport after the trade. Turner appreciated the gesture— Christopher A. Vito (@ChrisVito) March 14, 2014
That had to be an interesting car ride.
It was general manager Sam Hinkie who pulled the trigger on the deal, but it was Turner who escaped from feeling like he had a gun pointed at him. The departure was inevitable, as CSNPhilly.com's John Gonzalez explains: "After three-and-a-half seasons in Philadelphia, it was obvious that Turner was a mid-level performer who wouldn't return enough value for the Sixers to make a second investment in him."
On top of that, the Ohio State product was probably dealing with some mixed feelings.
He was going from a lottery contender to a title contender, but he was leaving behind the city and teammates he'd grown up with.
Turner has less pressure and skepticism aimed in his general direction now that he's with the Pacers, but the expectations have taken on a different meaning. Instead of hoping for solid play, his new fanbase won't be satisfied with anything less than contributions that help bring a title to Indiana.