When Nerlens Noel tweeted out a Rondoian ominous "4-4-14" just over two weeks ago, the entire NBA world took notice. That's not hyperbole. The Sixers have caught the national media's attention with their epic losing streak and Noel's return to the hardwood is something nearly every basketball podcast has conspiracized about this month. Today, our good friend Molly Sullivan provided Philly fans with an encouraging update on Noel.
Far from a light session for the Sixers at practice right now. "Today was real," Brett Brown said. Brett also said Nerlens Noel is at 80%...— Molly Sullivan (@MollyESullivan) March 25, 2014
This is really the first quantitative optimistic comment anyone paid by the Sixers has publicly made this season about Noel's rehab. We've heard vague speeches about progress and patience that ultimately resonate a feeling of doubt that Noel would play this season. Brett Brown has always been a guy to wear his heart of his sleeve, so there is no reason to take this tweet as anything but realistic optimism.
Noel first tore his ACL on Feb. 13, 2013. His 13-month-plus stint on the shelf is unprecedentedly long — the longest in NBA history, in fact. We've seen glimpses of what this freak-of-nature athlete is capable of doing on a basketball court.The time for us to see him on the court during an NBA regular season game might be very, very soon.