All it took was one elbow to the face, an uncontrollable giggle fit, and an insincere “apology” to turn the 76ers into the biggest heels of the NBA playoffs.
Gone are the lovable losers of The Process. The heel turn is complete. The 76ers are now the villains of the NBA playoffs and it’s amazing.
The Nets cannot keep themselves from talking about Joel Embiid and Ben Simmon’s giggle fit when JoJo tried to apologize for almost caving in Jarrett Allen’s nasal cavity after game two. Embiid tried to play it off, but the Nets took it to heart and have been losing their minds in the media leading up to game three. Always good to have a nice distraction right before a key moment in a playoff series.
As HHH always says, “it’s all about the game, and how you play it.”
“I felt a certain type of way for it just because you’re laughing and someone could have really gotten hurt,” Dudley said. “Luckily, Jay did pop up. For us, you can get even however you want to do it, but the biggest thing for us to get even is winning Game 3.”
And then he went in on Simmons:
Jared Dudley on Ben Simmons: "I think Ben Simmons is a great player in transition. Once you slow him up in the half court I thin he's average. He's a player that when he picks up speed he's a load so you have to have two guys with him. It's taking away his easy baskets."
— Sarah Todd (@NBASarah) April 17, 2019
To which Simmons replied this morning:
Ben Simmons on Jared Dudley's comment about him being an average player in the half court: "That's coming from Jared Dudley."
— Noah Levick (@NoahLevick) April 18, 2019
Yes. Jared Dudley, YOU JUST MADE THE LIST!
The postseason 76ers have fully transitioned into Rowdy Roddy Piper poking his opponent in the eyes when the referee has his back turned. The 76ers now have beef with every team they run into in the postseason. The Heat hated their guts. The Celtics hated their guts. The Nets currently hate their guts. Anyone this team runs up against in the postseason wants to strangle the life out of them.
What else can this team do to the Nets to enrage them more? Is Embiid going to throw salt in Allen’s eyes during a crucial moment in game three to secure the victory for Philadelphia? Will Boban Marjanovic smash a coconut over D’Angelo Russell’s head during a halftime interview? Will J.J. Redick and Tobias Harris double-powerbomb Nets coach Kenny Atkinson through the announcers table as his distraught wife looks on in horror?
This heel turn suits the 76ers. After all, the best “characters” in the WWE have always been the heels, the anti-heroes, the wrestlers you loved to hate. Piper. Stone Cold. Chris Jericho. Kevin Owens. Why cheer for Roman Reigns spouting out cliched tag lines about being “the biggest dog in the yard” when it’s so much more fun to cheer for a heelish Shawn Michaels super-kicking Marty Jannetty through a barbershop window?
Whatever it is about this team, it just makes their opponents bubble over in hatred. Take Rodions Kurucs (who?), the 21-year-old Latvian rookie who got called for a flagrant foul minutes after Embiid’s in game two. Kurucs took GREAT OFFENSE at Ben Simmons calling him “that kid” after the 76ers game 1 loss.
“He plays hard, and I play hard. Also, I don’t like that he said in the media that JD (Jared Dudley) is guarding him and ‘that kid.’ Now, I want to let him know that he knows my name. I’ll play hard. I’ll go at him, and I’m not scared of him,” said Kurucs.
I’ll be honest, I still don’t think Ben knows your name, Kurucs. And to be fair to Simmons, I doubt anyone outside of Brooklyn has ever heard your name. Hell, I doubt anyone in Brooklyn knows who you are. Ask the average Brooklynite what “Rodions Kurucs” is and they’d probably guess that it’s a new late-night shawarma stand in Bushwick.
You are a “that kid” through and through, Kurucs. Learn to live with it. You may be a big deal in Latvia, but here you’re just a Bond villain look-a-like who gets thrown into a vat of boiling acid at the end of the movie by Timothy Dalton.
So keep crying foul, Brooklyn. Philadelphia will play it cool and wait for the perfect moment to give you a low-blow for the quick 1, 2, 3 victory and then be on to bigger and better things. As Eddie Guerrero used to say, “if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.”
And they still won’t bother to figure out who Rodions Kurucs is.