What's happenin', LB fam? Long-time lurker here, first time poster.
First, I need to come clean that I'm a lurker legend, like back to the days of Mikey Levin's editorship. Back when Spike's spit takes were confined to the comment section instead of tone-setting a lucrative podcast. Back when we all squinted at Wroten's speed to see the 2-way potential and reveled in the chaotic joy of a good stretch with Point Jakarr. Back before I had the opportunity to be a hard-pass Nokafor (who later developed a soft spot of compassion for Vegan Jah). Back in the salad days when we all girded our loins for a legendary shitpost response from yunggoon and looked forward to that stoner dude's reports from BlueCoats games (sorry, I forget his user name, but that bro was epic). Long before WCSixerfan started the essential series of emoji post-game reports (can we get a steady diet of those in 23-24, WC?). Truly, back when I lived outside the Philly area, I depended on Liberty Ballers and Beerleaguer (RIP) to help me get through the long lonely winters when I couldn't be physically surrounded by fellow Negadelphians. I've been back a few years now, but LB is still my one true home for Sixers takes.
I guess I haven't posted before because I don't give a shit about the hot dog sandwich debate.
But I'm finally ready to wade into these waters (shout out to legends like Noahflax and Ken for keeping this place propped up and fun after the Great Coral Exodus left us wandering in the comment desert). I bring you tidings of peace and hard-earned optimism.
I know it's #toosoon for most of us to go there.
Had I posted even yesterday I'd still be clawing my eyes out about any one of the following: 1) the absolute disgraceful display of Charmin softness and seeming low-effort put forth by Jo & James in Game 7; 2) Jo's tone-deaf comments post the Game 6 collapse AND post his Game 7 masterclass in how to get simply outworked on the boards while being the biggest human on the court, sonned yet again by old-man Horford, and exposed on D by his fellow Hanlen disciple (who's back to being a 4th quarter bonehead again now that he's in the Conference finals); 3) Jimmy Bucket's continued playoff torching of the entire association while Ben sits on his couch instagramming images of his wack-ass off-center television screen; 4) Morey's obsession for James's tantalizing slow-motion strip-tease blue-ball dribble dribble "y'all-just-stand-around-and-watch-me-airball-this-mf'ing-three" brand of iso offense; the list could go on. And then, on top of the many fires in our own house, we have to watch Jokic hustle around the court seemingly always in the right position for a timely offensive or defensive board to change the game's momentum. It's enough to drive us all mad.
But I woke up refreshed and back on #TeamChill. Despite widespread reports of our inevitable demise, we have some promising reasons to keep the faith for one more year.
Doc Glenn is gone, y'all.
Jo got his MVP, which means he may turn his attention elsewhere.
James is...well, who knows what James plans to do, but he's not very high on my list of reasons to be on #TeamChill anyway--though I do think he can be part of something special if he stays.
We still get to watch National Treasure Tyrese Maxey grow up and meet every challenge right before our eyes.
PJ still barks with our dogs in next year's playoffs. And Mr. Do-Something will still be doing lots of stuff for us next year. And maybe he'll work on his 3 all summer with Tyrese so he can exorcise those Game 6 Scott-Norwood-esque "wide right" demons next May.
Who knows? Maybe Morey will even allow us the joy of continuing the Paul Reed Victory tour with a coach who might try him at the four sometimes. Let your BlueCoat 3-ball fly, Paul! We all know you got a deeper bag than Doc ever let you show! You'll be our Aaron Gordon-east next year, baby!
All of this brings me solace despite the looming pick-your-poison of maxing Harden or letting him walk while being cap-hamstrung (though I'm with DaveinNYC on saying next year could be fun to unleash McDaniels, Maxey, and Springer!).
But here's the thing that brings me the most hope: Our crown jewel of the process is no ordinary 30 year old. Yes, his body likely doesn't have many years left in prime condition, and the injury bug is a forever playoff bugaboo. But this brother has only been playing this beautiful game since he was 15! The media can talk their shit about him being a Fake MVP, but Jokic comes through the Balkan school, reared in basketball his entire life. No wonder he sees the court like a savant and has an innate feel for positioning. But our guy? His parents didn't even let him play hoops at first! He's learned the game in large part from youtube highlights. And yet he's still his peers first pick in the NBA All Star Draft. He's a one of one. There's NO ONE I'd rather have on our squad for 4 more years, despite the holes in his game. Because I do trust--despite all my frustrations with his press conference chatter--that Jo is sitting on his couch watching intently as Jokic torches fools through court vision and flat out big man hustle while AD simultaneously owns the paint on the other end. And Jo is saying to himself, "I could do that. Shit, I could do that too. Wow, that's all you have to do? Lemme call Drew and get my workout plan going."
I'm not saying Jo will ever be the passer that Jokic is. How could he? Jokic has been steeped in this game for more than a decade longer!
But I fully trust that Jo is watching these Conference Finals and kicking himself as he sees the little things add up to victories for bigs that he KNOWS he can hang with.
We all know that Jo wanted an MVP more badly than he could admit. But we also know that he also wants DPOY. And I trust that he wants a championship for Philly too. What happens when we get a new coach that instills better off-ball motion around Jo and knows how to tinker to at least ATTEMPT to maximize the quirky strengths of a roster? What happens when Jo comes to camp saying his goal is to win DPOY instead of a 3rd scoring title? What happens if Tyrese takes another leap, comes back looking jacked like late-career Steph, even more ready to fight through screens on D and finish through even more contact in the paint?
I was all the way out for 3 days. But I'm back in. Because Jo has met every challenge he's put in place for himself. His game comes back from every summer more refined. Yes, he reads as too soft sometimes. But if Jimmy Fucking Buckets includes Jo in his favorite teammates of all time, that's enough for me to know that we've not seen the last of Joel Hans Embiid's upside.
And I'm so glad we get to teeter on the precipice of Quadruple Doink Dreams finally swishing through the net in our favor. Take as long as you need, LBers. #TeamChill will be here for you when you're ready. And you know that Jo and Tyrese will be in that gym this summer taking their game to the next level. What a gift that we get to watch them continue to grow up right before our eyes.
#TeamChill, y'all. Come on in. The water's fine.