Revel in this moment, Sixers fans. This is what we’ve been waiting for since the 76ers kicked off the “good” years of the Process and drafted one Benjamin Simmons.
When James Harden makes his home debut for the 76ers Wednesday night, just pause for a moment and take it all in. The burst of excitement. The roar of the crowd when Harden is announced. The pregame buzz. Realize that this season, even the next season, could very well be the best moments of our 76ers’ fandom. It’s set up for nothing less.
Will they win a championship with the best duo in a Sixers uniform since Embiid and half-a-season of Jimmy Butler? Since Allen Iverson and… well.. any of the 500 failed “stars” they tried to team up with A.I. over the years? Since Dr. J and Moses?
Nothing is guaranteed, but through two games with this new-look team you can see what we’ve been clamoring for since 2016. We finally have one of the best duos in professional basketball, a young core to build around, a fast, up-tempo squad that’s fun to watch and not a slog in a half-court set. It’s all here, Philadelphia. This is it.
It’s no longer just about the hype. Now we can finally brag about the substance for this franchise.
Strangely enough, the only way the Sixers got to this point was by jettisoning the 240-pound Australian meat pie with a mysteriously balky back who may or may not actually hate playing the game basketball. OH SWEET IRONY. Once the savior of a city, now its main villain. A premise so hacky even Aaron Sorkin would think it’s “a bit much.”
You’ve seen the potential, you’ve seen what James Harden has brought to this franchise already. An alpha on the same level of Joel Hans Embiid that Joel doesn’t have to tiptoe around, that he doesn’t have to placate with honey-drizzled sweet nothings whispered into the ear of the media to stroke the ego of one of the most fragile “superstars” to play the game.
“No no, we can absolutely win with Ben. He’s a great teammate, very involved, I love playing with him. He brings so much, he’s a joy to share the court with. He’s not a drip at all. Do we hang out? Not really. He does his own thing. I do mine. But he’s a great guy, a great player. We’ll have many great years together, we’re a much better team when he’s on the court.”
And still, he sulked. If Simmons ever decides to gets into the music game that should be the title of his debut album.
And Still, He Sulked.
It’s as if a great weight has been lifted from the franchise’s shoulders, from Embiid, from the fanbase. MY GOD. You can feel it, right? No more wasted energy on finding ways to defend a young all-star with a glaring weakness in his game. No more time arguing with other fans on social media about how he doesn’t actually NEED to shoot to be an elite player in the league. No more time researching obscure stats to show how he impacts the game more than point guards who actually score on a regular basis.
He does so many other things! He’s a throwback point guard with great vision, with elite defense. How dumb are you if you think he needs to score to actually be an effective member of this team? Everyone just hates Philadelphia, that’s the only reason he gets the criticism he does.
Of course it was all nonsense. Deep down, we all knew it. Now, all we have to worry about is jealous fans complaining the Sixers are sent to the foul line too many times.
That’s it? That’s the big complaint about the Sixers now? That’s like a mother’s loving kiss atop the head of her newborn infant compared with what we went through for these last five years.
Enjoy the rest of this season watching an otherworldly point guard know exactly how to run a classic pick and roll to perfection with an otherworldly center. A point guard who actually forces a defense to make a decision if they need to come up and contest his shot or sag back to the roller.
It’s a thing of beauty, and something we never got to experience with the bludger who just left town.
It may look different than what we’ve seen out of our point guards the past few years. You won’t see any out of control drives that result in a mid-lane jump and twist to frantically kick the ball out to an out of place guard. You won’t see a grown man emotionally break down like Richie Tennenbaum and take off his shoes mid-game at the thought of going to the free-throw line. You won’t see a man dourly deflect blame and refuse to work on a weakness to his game that any kindergartner can see.
This is it, gang. Jump on the bandwagon. The lump is gone. The Beard is here.
Life is good.