I'll never forget the first time I heard the name Bruno Caboclo. It was also the first time you heard it.
For the next three minutes, you would have needed a bulldozer to pry me away from the television. Every sentence I heard for those three minutes was like beautiful music to my ears. I've never cared more about what Fran Fraschilla was about to tell me before this very moment in time.
"He's described as THE BRAZILIAN KEVIN DURANT!" said Fraschilla, in real life, without even a hint of irony. And that was the appetizer!
"He really doesn't know how to play yet," he continued about the 20th pick in a draft where basketball players are selected, ideally to someday play basketball.
And then, the game changer. The pièce de résistance.
"He's two years away from being two years away."
That's when I fell in love with somebody whose existence on this planet I had just learned about three minutes prior.
As a prospect, Bruno checks all of the boxes that indicate somebody who is just plain fun to root for. He's ultra-athletic. He seems like a nice kid. He has no clue what he's doing or what's happening around him on a basketball court.
He shows flashes. Watching him in Las Vegas at Summer League, he didn't seem nearly as lost as expected given what I knew about him coming into the league. He flashed a jumper that I remarked may only be two years away rather than two years away from being two years away. He is, in a word, fun.
Thus far, Bruno has only played in three NBA games. The Raptors are fighting for an Eastern Conference title, and don't have the luxury of burning much playing time on a raw rookie who averaged less than 5 points per game last season in Brazil's top professional basketball league.
He's also only played in three D-League games. Toronto is one of 13 NBA teams that don't have an independent D-League affiliate, and Caboclo struggled to get adequate playing time for a team where the Raptors have little to no say in his development. As such, he's spent most of his time on the main roster, watching from the sidelines, where I assume he spends most of his time playing I Spy with DeMar DeRozan.
Much like I believe in the future of the Sixers, I believe in Bruno Caboclo. I believe in big dreams. I believe in taking a big change on promise even with a safer option on the table. Most importantly, I believe because I desperately want to.
Despite the fact that he doesn't play for the Sixers, Bruno Caboclo is the Sixers. He is a big dream, an idea that many consider foolish, but could pay massive dividends just as easily as it could go up in flames. He might be ready sooner than people expect, and he'll show flashes, but ultimately, he's built to last rather than for immediate gratification.
As a person, he is a symbol for everything about the Sixers today, and what the Sixers hope to be going forward. He's currently a massive work in progress, but if everything clicks, he could develop into a dominant force that everyone will either kick themselves for missing out on or claim they were on board with right from the start.
Tonight, the Sixers will face Caboclo's Raptors. It's unlikely the Brazillian Blärk will play unless the game is well out of hand, one way or the far more likely other.
If he does, we'll get a small glimpse of the future. If not, we'll simply have to wait and continue to dream on the promise.
It could still be two years away from being two years away.