I have a confession to make. I never wanted Jrue Holiday. To me, he was the exemplar of the kind of toolsy but unpolished prospect that breaks hearts and leaves fans to roll their eyes so much and so enthusiastically that they risk damaging their retinas.
I was wrong.
In four years in Philadelphia, Holiday turned into, well, not a star, but a legitimately good starting point guard. Holiday could score, defend and run an offense. He wasn't going to be a franchise player, but once that star showed up, Holiday would be the steady hand to guide the offense the next time the Sixers made a run at a title. Despite coming in as one of the youngest players in the league, Holiday jumped into the lineup immediately and stayed there, starting 276 out of his 298 games in a Sixers uniform.
And he was awesome. He dropped bombs, both athletic and photographic. After decades of Derrick Coleman and Allen Iverson and Charles Barkley, he was stupendously easy to root for.
Even though the editorial position of this site has long been to blow it up, tank and blow it up with a tank, Jrue has always been untouchable, the one legitimate piece of a championship team that was already in place. Brandon enthusiastically endorsed him in his Toot It or Boot It, and when Levin got the crazy eye and tried to liquidate the entire roster, the only player he never seriously considered dealing was Holiday.
Turns out Sam Hinkie is even crazier than we are. And it's easy to dislike this trade, where the Sixers ditched their best player for a second, different center with balky knees. If I'm completely candid, it's going to take me a while to get completely comfortable with having Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams instead of Jrue. He was good, we liked him and we expected him to be around a long time, and now that that's changed, suddenly and irrevocably, it'll take a while to adjust.
But as a semiliterate ancient Roman would say, vado magnus vel vado domus--go big or go home.
In a way, Holiday was a spiritual descendant not of Allen Iverson or Maurice Cheeks, but of Andre Iguodala, the good-but-not-great No. 1 option, the second banana miscast in the role of leader by a franchise that was often paralyzed by indecision and a lack of creativity. Those days are over. Now, "good" isn't good enough. "Good" gets traded for the potential for big upside, not only in Noel but in the top-five protected pick coming from New Orleans.
You know, Moses didn't enter the Promised Land. He led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and took them across the desert for 40 years. He brought down the Ten Commandments, but when the time came to enter the Promised Land, he couldn't enter.
So too it shall be with Jrue Holiday. Thanks for everything, Jrue. We're going to miss you.