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An optimistic preview of the Sixers’ season

Joel Embiid is the alpha and omega.

Brooklyn Nets v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

I emptied the clip yesterday on the negative Sixers energy that I’ve kept built up not just the last several months, but the last several years. Imagine how frantic my writing would have been if I wrote it before the Ben Simmons practice debacle?

I do love this team (well, the concept of the Sixers, maybe not this team specifically) and I want to enjoy this season to the max. I’m starved for concrete postseason success, but there are still reasons for me to have joy as a Sixers fan.

Joel Embiid.

Joel Hans Embiid.

I will never see a Sixers player as cool and as fun as Allen Iverson again in my lifetime, but Embiid is the most complete Sixers player since Moses Malone himself.

The Sixers have the best big man in basketball, MVP voting be damned. I get so frustrated at the organizational management, the coaching staff and the surrounding talent around Embiid that I really need to step back at certain points (not all the time, concerns are warranted) and soak up watching Embiid’s offensive bag that goes well beyond old-school post moves. He was hitting Kobe Bryant fadeaways off the dribble last season! He’s 7-foot and 280 pounds! It doesn’t make any sense!

I love him. Know what’s even more important? He loves us. It’s so easy to understand the Philadelphia fan base, yet so few athletes do. We ain’t hard to please. Try hard, soak up the vibes of a raucous crowd, say the right things to the media and understand that booing or negativity is born out of a passion that supersedes your finite time in the city. Bryce Harper was here for five minutes and got it.

Embiid is not only a legitimately MVP candidate and one of the most talented centers ever, but a dude who knows how to butter up Philly fans perfectly.

I love him.

The stark contrast between Embiid and Simmons is overwhelming.

He’s fed up just like us! GOOD!

About Simmons...

My pessimistic take on this year revolved around him. As much as this drama makes me roll my eyes back into my skull and crushes any of the happiness I should have at the dawn of an NBA season, his time here is running out. The finish line is in sight. It’s almost over. I have no clue when it’ll be over, but by the time this Sixers season is done, I’m assuming Simmons will be done too.

Simmons is unquestionably the deciding factor on whether I can muster excitement and basketball overall. Rip the Band-Aid off. I’ll run down Broad Street while taking a six-pack to the face when I get the Woj notification.

Beyond Embiid, there are other Sixers players that are worth going to bat for. Matisse Thybulle, assuming he has an increased workload when Simmons inevitably leaves, should be in consideration for a First-Team All-Defense selection. Seth Curry is a flamethrower. Tyrese Maxey is the latest Philly sports youngster to capture the city’s imagination, perhaps rewriting the wrongs of the Markelle Fultz debacle. I’m not exactly sure how the Sixers’ lineup will shake out this season with the Simmons variable, but maybe Maxey could get some Sixth Man of the Year buzz?

Again, I need postseason success more than I need air, but the Sixers were in fact the top seed in the Eastern Conference in 2021. I’m worried about how much winning will go on during the playoffs, but I know they’re going to thrash some sorry teams over the next couple of months.

Cracking open a cold one and watching Embiid turning opposing defenders into BBQ chicken? I hope it happens in May, but I’ll try to enjoy it January too.