- Jaime Gutierrez
Are You Not Entertained??
It's wasn't the most high profile game. It didn't have two particularly great teams. Between them they only had one legitimate superstar. Out of 24 guys on the roster only 1 had all star appearances. One team has had one of the top 3 picks in the last 5 yrs of the NBA draft. But the Sixers vs the Thunder last night has been the most entertaining NBA game of this young season. It had more storylines than either the Cavs vs Knicks or GSW vs Spurs. This is mostly due to two players. Two players that need to be watched all year. Whenever these two play, I want to be watching.
In one corner is Russell Westbrook with his incredible display of athleticism, competitiveness, and enormous chip on shoulder attitude; plus amazing fashion statements (too many to reference here). A figure whom for reasons of his on doing and of the fact that he played bad cop to Durant's good cop for eight seasons is extremely polarizing. But it is impossible to deny how much fun it is to watch him play basketball. Unless you're this guy, apparently. BTW, RW's "who's man is this?" reaction, was classic. Westbrook went on to torch the Sixers for 32 pts, 12 rebounds, and 9 assists, not to mention leading his team to a win on the road. Westbrook normally plays with an intensity unmatched by most NBA players but this season and his "scorched earth" attitude after losing his tandem bike partner because Durant "wants to win" is a dig on more levels than a 7 layer cake.
In the other corner, Joel "The Process" Embiid, most famous for being an avid tweeter user and asking Kim Kardasian to slide into his DMs. Note, Kim K. was already married to Kanye West at the time. Unfortunately, for all of Philly and their basketball fans, the most entertainment they would get from Embiid for the next two years was from his Twitter timeline. After being drafted number 3 overall in 2014 he missed the entire 2014-2015 season with a broken foot. Just as 76ers fanned geared up to take a look at him in action in the 2015-2016 season, it was ruled during a CT scan that he had a setback and would miss the entire 2015-2016 season. Philly fans reacted with a collective face palm.
2016-2017 brought new hope! Sam Hinkie gone and the number 1 pick in the draft. Enter Ben Simmons breaking his foot in the preseason and another draft pick lost for the year. This team can't catch a break. But "The Process" is healthy! We'll finally get to see what he can do! And see they did. He was in action on Wednesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder and had an impressive night. In 22 minutes he scored 20 points, pulled down 7 rebounds and had 2 blocks. He showed range, footwork and athleticism. Not bad for a "rookie's" first game. But his most impressive performance came came in the fourth quarter after being fouled by Steven Adams and he clearly shouted "He can't guard me!". Normally, this kind of boasting comes off as annoying to me, but when it's a player who hasn't played in two years and is dominating a decent defender I can see it for what it is. Awesome entertainment. I have a feeling we're in store for much more of this throughout the season with Embiid. The Sixers won't be very good but it might be worth tuning in just to watch what he does next.
The media outlets couldn't have known that this game would be more competitive than the Cavs/Knicks game or the GSW/Spurs game but they understood the potential, which is why it was on ESPN. The top teams will always get air time but I for one will be making sure to tune in when Westbrook playing anyone and starting a pool as to when the Sixers hire an intern to run Embiid's Twitter account (plus watch some of his games).