The 76ers vs the Lakers should be a thing. It really should be. It's the story of two proud franchises, with a strong tradition of winning, and a long line of star players who have come through the two teams. Erving and Magic. Iverson and Kobe. Moses and Kareem. Wilt and...well, Wilt.
But, like most things in basketball, the Celtics came along and ruined everything. The Celtics and the Lakers have a rivalry that turned the game into a brand that sells out arenas in Vegas to watch rookies and D-leaguers play exhibition games.
One of the biggest problems with the rivalry is that for the last three decades, the teams have very rarely been on the same plane at the same time, mostly because of the Sixers. In their only playoff matchup since the Sixers defeated the Lakers in 1983 to win the NBA Championship, the Sixers defeated the Lakers in game one of the Finals and then the rest of the finals were cancelled, if I recall correctly.
Tonight, however, that all changes. For once, the Sixers and the Lakers are in fact on the same plane. A 1-2 record in the Vegas Summer League. A Kentucky rookie with an injury question mark. Championships that seem so long ago (the Lakers haven't won a title since 2010, the Sixers since last Friday).
A few years ago, when I was going to Temple, my friend Dan and I bought the cheapest ten-game plan for Sixers games, admittedly mostly just to see the other, better teams come in and steamroll the Sixers. Dan's a great friend, except for one crippling character flaw -- being a Lakers fan. Over the past few years, it's been hard to watch as he adjusts from his team being the kings of the basketball world to, well, the Sixers. What used to be excitement over Kobe and Howard and more Kobe has now turned into talking himself into Jodie Meeks and Nick Young. What was once texts about Kobe going off have turned into texts about Jordan Clarkson being a future All-Star. Heck, it's July 16th and they haven't even hired a coach yet! WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, LAKERS?
Tonight, the Sixers look to surpass the Lakers once and for all as a basketball power -- by winning a first round tournament game in an exhibition basketball tournament played on a college campus in Las Vegas. Clearly the true standard of excellence.
As for game information, at press time,
large flat-topped human Nerlens Noel is expected to play tonight, while K.J. McDaniels and Jordan McRae will both miss tonight's game with ankle injuries. For the Lakers, #7 overall pick Julius Randle is expected to play as well, along with former Delaware 87ers great Kendall Marshall.
Game time is 10:30PM Eastern Sixers Time, and 7:30PM for the remaining members of the Liberty Ballers Las Vegas Chapter, Sean O'Connor and Jake Fischer. The game will be broadcast on NBATV, but not on TCN tonight, which will instead be broadcasting boxing. For those without NBATV on your cable systems (like myself), NBA Summer League Live is still only five dollars, and it's been effective for me.
Anyway, join us tonight at 10:30PM. It'll be fun.
(UPDATE: So, hey, funny story. I wrote this whole thing about how this was the most important game ever and such, then, at 8PM, the Sixers decided to inform us that Nerlens isn't playing tonight, still resting from the one basketball game he has played in the last week. While I appreciate the cautiousness of Sam Hinkie and friends, it's quite frustrating sometimes. So check back in at 10:30PM where I'll apparently just be making Brandon Davies jokes again.)