This subject again? Last weekend the Philadelphia 76ers on a west coast road trip, defeated The Los Angeles Clippers 122-97. The game has some backstory here that keeps popping up. And now it has even taken a surprise turn.
Before tip off, Clippers coach, yes the man who Allen Iverson once famously stepped over, yes the man the Sixers almost hired, Tyronn Lue, said some things about the Sixers’ star duo of Joel Embiid and James Harden.
In case you missed that, go catch up quickly then come back.
But to recap... first this quote went viral prior to tip off:
Ty Lue: “Embiid is #1 in the league in free throws and James Harden is #3. You take away their free throws and neither guy would be top-10 in scoring.”— Joey Linn (@joeylinn_) March 26, 2022
And that made the rounds so that in between pregame and the game, apparently the Sixers themselves heard about just this snippet of Lue’s full answer.
Even our LB Twitter handle got in on the smack talk:
Joel Embiid has a word with Ty Lue. Perhaps letting him know that free throws very much count on the scoreboard. (Yes, we are going to run this bit into the ground.) https://t.co/SawZ36mt6X— Liberty Ballers (@Liberty_Ballers) March 26, 2022
During the game, Joel was seen jawing with or speaking with Lue. Was the back-and-forth about these free throw comments, we all wondered?
Ty Lue: “Embiid is #1 in the league in free throws and James Harden is #3. You take away their free throws and neither guy would be top-10 in scoring.”— Josh Reynolds (@JoshReynolds24) March 26, 2022
Joel Embiid: 27 Pts on 7/8 FT
James Harden: 29 Pts on 11/11 FT
Embiid with a little something for Ty Lue after this bucket lol pic.twitter.com/ej6ZkAwKX6
The Sixers won and we all mostly moved on.
It was Tomer Azarly of ClutchPoints who reported the full context of the pregame quotes from coach Lue the morning after the game. Azarly was in L.A. and shared the full clip and he didn’t quite understand why it had become a thing since it didn’t sound inflammatory, given the full context.
Notice in the full version, it’s mostly clear Lue wasn’t taking an intentional dig. He was mostly praising the Sixers’ stars, referring to them as former and possibly future MVPs:
Here’s Ty Lue’s full pregame comments on Sixers stars Joel Embiid and James Harden, some of which were taken out of context before last night’s game. pic.twitter.com/1aOQGdNtUK— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) March 26, 2022
Now, was what Lue said a bit clumsy? Probably. If one were making the case for Embiid as MVP, for example, one would never say “he wouldn’t be in the top 10 in scoring without the free throws.” None of the top scorers would, and that goes for Nikola Jokic and Giannis too.
Nevertheless, we can give Lue the benefit of the doubt he meant to compliment the Sixers stars in a way, it just came out a bit clunky.
But Daryl Morey, who may have only seen the abbreviated quote, (Eurohoops.net, which he shared did not provide full context, he should probably stick to Liberty Ballers or at least Ballsack Sports) or was simply supporting his stars, stood up for his team on Twitter:
Morey’s use of “say it with me again” could be interpreted as a slight towards Lue, the implication being, their coach forgot something obvious and needed to be reminded. But Daryl was probably just being playful as well.
At that point, because he said anything at all, you knew you’d hear more about this down the line. At the first opportunity, reporters asked Lue if he’d seen Morey’s tweet and asked him what Joel Embiid said to him during the game.
And we got answers! First and foremost what did Joel say after draining a pull up then running over to Lue just before that timeout?
I asked Ty Lue what Joel Embiid said to him in this moment.— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) March 28, 2022
Joel said, “Oh, so I can’t score without free throws, huh?”
Ty Lue was initially confused, but later explained to Embiid his quote was taken out of context and what he meant. Embiid understood, says Ty. pic.twitter.com/KaLKP5A5ST
No surprise here. Lue also contends he was taken a bit out of context. That’s basically what we guessed.
“Well, they took it out of context,” Lue said. “I mean, it wasn’t, it was said meaning that if you continue to foul those guys, they can score 50. We want them to make field goals and now free throws because they’re crafty at getting to the line.”
And Lue could have left it at that. But then he decided instead to take it another direction:
“But in response to Daryl Morey, like, should he really be tweeting anything right now? Last time he tweeted, he cost the NBA a billion dollars. So, I don’t think he should be doing too much tweeting. Just worry about his own team.”
Azarly notes: “Not great from either side. Hopefully both teams can just move on from this and close out their respective seasons.”
And that parting shot gave this little story a little bit more legs, calling back the infamous Morey Hong Kong tweet and financial fall out that had on the NBA.
It all brings back memories of these quotes from prominent players like LeBron James who shunned Morey (prior to joining the Sixers) for his tweet. Remember this stuff?
“On Tuesday evening, James said it was his belief that Morey was “either misinformed or not really educated on the situation” with the NBA and China and insisted that the Rockets general manager hadn’t properly considered the repercussions of his words. “So many people could have been harmed, not only financially but physically, emotionally, spiritually.” he said. (ESPN reported earlier Tuesday that James and others had lost lucrative endorsement deals and appearances as part of the fallout.)”
Some people in Hong Kong said at the time they were disappointed with James for this and there were even reports some protestors were burning his jerseys. LeBron took the time to clarify his position and yadda yadda....
So some folks on social media today, like Nate Duncan of Dunc’d on Pod decided to sound off:
Those who do business in China take the risk of dealing with an autocratic regime that will unilaterally cancel contracts over the exercise of a single employee's free speech rights. It's insane that people still blame Morey rather than the CCP over this. https://t.co/BXdqGrLYpr— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) March 28, 2022
Our Harrison Grimm was bold enough to voice a strong opinion too:
There’s no shot we are spinning a tweet that stood up for human rights as a bad thing. Ty Lue’s original quote was taken out of context, but this is a boneheaded thing to say. https://t.co/KINw7Nt8EG— Harrison Grimm (@Harrison_Grimm) March 28, 2022
So there you go. Form your opinions as you will. Maybe some coaches and players still blame Morey for the “Daryl Deduction.” Maybe they don’t think this was a bear he should have poked. Maybe they think there was another way to have poked it. Maybe they don’t believe in this cause. Maybe they think that means he should never tweet on any subject ever again....
Hopefully you have enough background to take to the Sixers’ water cooler.
The odds of the Clippers and Sixers meeting in the finals, where this subject would surely resurface, are slim to none. But we can book mark it as bulletin board material for next season.