Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Philadelphia comes to town tonight with a much different tail wind than in past years.
Tanking no longer is the operative term for a team that has systematically collected young talent through high draft picks, accepted short-term losing and waited out key injuries.
But no more. Joel Embiid has successfully spun the derisive term “tanking” into the far softer-sounding “process,” and suddenly the Sixers had the fifth-best record in the Eastern Conference heading into last night’s home game against Washington.
Mention of how the Sixers got there made Al Horford wince, but the Celtics center also had an admission.
“I think it worked out pretty good. Those guys, it worked out real well,” he said yesterday with a laugh. “That’s not the way you want to do it, but it worked out great. You have a guy like Joel Embiid, you have Ben Simmons, you have a lot of great players over there. Then you bring in some veterans — J.J. Redick, Amir Johnson — and all of a sudden you’re a playoff team. The future is very bright for them.”
The arrival of the 76ers reminds me of one of those disaster movies where the first 30 or so minutes is spent scoffing at the notion that the “disaster,” whatever it may be (Godzilla, an asteroid, the Monstars, any M Night Shyamalan directorial decision) is actually coming.
We spent the last four years laughing at the Sixers and lecturing their fans on the right way to build a lasting, NBA contender. Even though we saw the top-five talent pile up year over year, we assured ourselves that Philly would never actualize that potential. As Noel and Okafor flamed out and Embiid and Simmons nursed injuries, we wrongfully turned our attention to other nuisances — the Bucks, the Wizards, the Raptors, but we’d hear from the Sixers in due time.
This year is starting to look like the second half-hour of one of those movies. Godzilla isn’t wrecking NYC yet, the asteroid hasn’t hit, the Monstars haven’t showed up at the Looney Tunes pick-up game, but the audience has now seen the power and potential of what’s to come and they know the last hour is going to be a fight to save civilization/Michael Jordan. There’s Joel Embiid, toying with the Lakers, blocking shots at one end and throwing down vicious dunks at the other, all while already vying for a statue next to Rocky at the base of the Art Museum. Ben Simmons looks like either the richest man’s Lamar Odom or a very poor man’s Lebron and is going to be an absolute force for years to come. The 76ers are going to be a force.
Tonight, we get a look at those “second half-hour” Sixers in the nascent stages of what should become a long-term, Eastern Conference rivalry between two teams that have build quality rosters, with quality coaching and management and with quality assets to keep getting better. Unfortunately, Joel Embiid will be sitting this one out on the second night of a back-to-back, but make no mistake, the Sixers are going to be a factor until the credits roll.
Oh, and the last hour of the disaster-movie Sixers? If they add Lebron to the cast next season they’ll become the Night King’s army with a blue-fire breathing dragon and our Celtics will have to man the eff up if they have any chance of survival.
The Sixers are coming.
On page 2, Tatum is the pizza hero of St. Louis
When Tatum mentioned St. Louis-style pizza as his favorite food before last year’s NBA draft, where he was picked third, the Internet was in an uproar. Half the critics of his choice had never heard of Imo’s, and the other half maligned the pizza for its cracker-thin crust and liberal helping of provel cheese. To the former: Congratulations on now being enlightened. To the latter: Bite your tongues; their taste buds do not work.
Since being drafted, Tatum has become both an official and unofficial Imo’s ambassador. (To be clear, the pizza chain isn’t the sole purveyor of St. Louis-style crust, but it’s the most iconic. My personal favorite is called Grassi’s.) He now has a commercial for the chain that airs locally, and he’s also been talking about Imo’s and its particular brand of pie to a national audience for the past six months. He is a hero. And he is right. Imo’s is a revelation.
Someone needs to tell Tatum to stop trying to make St. Louis-style pizza happen, it’s not going to happen.
I’ve had Imo’s a few times, and while I’m not averse to downing a STL-style pie all by myself, it’s not even in the same league as a really good NY style pizza.
Bigger question: With Kyrie’s whole “I don’t eat animals” plant-based diet and all of the healthy eating habits around the NBA, will Jayson Tatum’s Imo’s obsession be his downfall? Trade him in an Anthony Davis deal before it’s too late and he eats himself out of the NBA!
The rest of the links: