It was just over a year ago when the Sixers were eliminated from the second round of the playoffs by the eventual champs, the Raptors. It was not quite a year ago when we learned the Sixers would not be “running it back” as many fans hoped they would. Witnessing the Jurassic Park-themed Canadian team that barely beat Philly by one ridiculous bucket go on to win the title was surprisingly uplifting, however. Hey! We were right there. If only we had had some time to jell or a respectable bench!
Last year the Sixers as a team defended quite well. But two-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard entered into this series-long automaton-flow-state and drilled an endless barrage of ridiculous pull ups that sucked the souls right out our bodies. Rumor has it many of us still have yet to regain them.
Maybe things can turn around. Who knows, maybe the Sixers show up in that damn bubble and ball out and come the fall we’ll be treated to the ghastly paradox of a Philadelphia pandemic parade. Wouldn’t that be the way we always kind of expected “The Process” to end when it first started? Some wasteland joyride with floats of Markelle Fultz, Jerry and Bryan Colangelo, Tony Wroten, Robert Covington (who they’d obviously have to beat in the finals) and Dario Šarić?
And as the final buzzer on TV sounded we’d be treated to the perfectly fitting surreal bliss of watching rivulets of champagne saturate media member’s N-95 masks, seeing Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons sprint to hug in slow-motion just as a drenched Brett Brown sacrifices himself, diving between them to enforce social distancing. As if they were throttling each other not whooping. The bell-ringer would have to use a nearby foam roller to keep the space. Mickey Mouse BackPack Kid dancing in the background. And all of these images would become as iconic as an MJ victory cigar.
The anniversary of the Sixers playoff loss came and went back on May 12th. The anniversary of the Raptors title was a month later. And a couple of days ago, The Ringer’s D.J. Foster called JJ Redick of all people the 4th best shooter in the NBA, behind only Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Steph Curry:
“4. JJ Redick, Pelicans
It’s almost laughable how money Redick is—he shot 58.8 percent on wide-open 3s this season, the highest percentage of any player (minimum 80 attempts) since the league started tracking closeout distances back in 2013-14. Only a select few play at a higher average speed offensively than the 35-year-old, but no one has better brakes than Redick....”
But it didn’t make me laugh D.J., it made me a nostalgic. I needed a break from reading about bubbles and the logistics of card games and I needed a break from the 2020 version of the 76ers. So I pulled out my iMovie and brushed up a silly music video I made one year ago. One I thought I’d never use, from when we thought the Sixers would pony up the big bucks, embrace the luxury taxes for years to come, and keep the band together.
Now it qualifies as a weird alternative “Halo ending:”
JJ Redick was fun to watch and even though he could get picked on defensively, he made everything more fun offensively. Ben Simmons had more room to operate. Joel Embiid and he had this beautiful dance they’d do. With the threat of JJ’s jumper alone, he was one of the most intriguing pick-n-roll (or hand-off) players. His best career years came in Brett Brown’s system and he was here for the turnaround from worst record in the NBA to becoming a 3 seed in back-to-back seasons. It sure would be cool if he had been the Sixers 6 man all season in some run it back alternative universe.
Here are the lyrics to the song. It’s obviously the music from Beyoncé’s “Halo.” My brother Kevin and I wrote the lyrics and our talented buddy Dan Berk sang it for us.
“JJ alternative Halo ending”
Remember those 3s you took
well baby you knocked ‘em down
perfect flick of the wrist
net barely makes a sound
feisty young kid out of duke
got booed wherever he’d go
well JJ you’re a legend now
you always put on quite the show
it’s like you’ve been awakened
these off balance shots that you’re takin
every 3 ball that you make in
you’re always driftin’ to your right
we found a way to bring you in
but always on a one year deal
standin’ in the light of your halo
you’re a gelled-hair highlight reel
tryin’ fit you into the cap
you know we tryna run this s-#t back
you may not be Kawhi on D
but JJ that’s just fine with me
I can feel your halo
JJ I can feel your halo
I can feel your halo
Comin off screen-action
waiting for you to ignite
don’t even need any room
raining 3s all through the night
spring you off top of the key
dribble-hand-off with Embiid
hit 40 percent in your sleep
still miss the days when you would tweet [outdated lyric we know he’s back on social!]
everywhere I’m lookin’ now
I see your handsome face somehow
JJ I can see your halo
you know you’re our saving grace