Nerlens NoTell: Some Fans Say They Want The Real...But They Really Don't
Most fans who claim they want honesty in their athletes aren’t being honest.
Not with themselves, the people they peddle that line of BS to, or in many cases both.
All love is conditional, aside from maybe a parent for their child, or so I’ve been told.
Few loves, not even trophy wives or celebrity/entourage friendships, come with as superficial a list of conditions than sports fans and the athletes they claim to cherish.
Fans really just want what’s best for their own self-interest and sports satisfaction, the same way the athlete wants what’s best for themselves, their career and their family.
There’s nothing wrong with that really from either side, if we could all display some small degree of self-awareness or just be a bit more honest about our motivations.
You’ve seen this all over the place all summer in local and national media per usual.
It manifested itself with LeBron finally winning the previously starved-dog sports city of Cleveland its first title so now all is 'forgiven'.
It's in the reaction to Colin Kaepernick’s protest, which made a massive lying-dog 44% threaten to stop watching the NFL as if they actually would or could.
We see it now in the Chris Bosh forced-retirement story coming to a close in Miami.
Enter 22-year-old Nerlens Noel, embarking on his first full-fledged foray into this fiery fray of “STFU and play” and “freedom of speech…just watch what you say”.
What was the breach of public trust committed by Nerlens’ audacious display?
Speaking a truth that almost anyone who follows the NBA, especially those who root for the Sixers, already knew if not had already came out to openly and publicly say.
Behold the quotes drawing criticism in columns like this one from veteran Sixer beat writer Bob Cooney and fanning phone-line flames on local sports talk-radio today:
"I think it's just silly . . . this situation that we are in now with three starting centers.
With the departure of Sam Hinkie, I would have figured that management would be able to get something done this summer.
I feel like it definitely needs to be figured out, I think at the end of the day, again, you have three starting-caliber centers.
And it's just not going to work to anybody's advantage having that on the same team.
That's how I'm looking at it.
I'm not opposed to anything, but things need to be situated.
Don't get me wrong.
We all get along great on the court and off but at the end of the day, it's like having three starting quarterbacks.
It doesn't make any sense."
Problem with anything he said there if you were looking for an honest, relatively objective appraisal of what the Sixer roster looks like as camp begins in Camden?
Didn’t think so.
As for the pearl-clutching follow-up inquiries, regarding whether this would affect Nerlens’ effort, keep in mind his effort has never in question during the past three long seasons playing primarily with bums, while losing at near-record rates?
"I'm here to do my job and play as hard as I can play for the city of Philadelphia.
I've always loved the fans from the jump.
It's probably one of the realest cities in the country with just genuine passion and love for the sport."
Sound reasonable to you, Philly?!?
Real recognize real, right? Right?!?
But if you’re a fan who wants a young guy that spent the last three years here toiling, improving his game, who just spent an entire offseason in trade rumors, playing this year for the most important contract negotiation of his life, simply to tell you a PR-penned pretty lie to make you feel more comfortable?
Then you may disagree.
That's your right...but if you also complain about the boring, perfunctory interactions we typically see between athletes and the people who cover or follow them?
Then one way or another, you're proving yourself wrong.
Keep in mind no one here is blaming the Sixers’ brass for not pulling the trigger on a Nerlens Noel trade.
The rumors they tried floating out to perhaps gauge fan or peer approval over the summer were totally underwhelming.
Meanwhile the salary they’d have to pay him, even at or close to the league max, wouldn’t handcuff a team like the Sixers who are so far under the salary cap.
The potentially game-changing caveats are currently two-fold:
1) “a healthy” Joel Embiid: So far, headed into year three, that four-word combo comes with a bigger asterisk than “the Colts with a healthy Bob Sanders” in the 2000’s or “a healthy Bill Walton” in the 80's. We’ve been on record stating that “a healthy Joel Embiid” is the best big man prospect of this millennium. Yet that's as big an “if” as it gets right now, heading into his third season having yet to play a single summer league or preseason contest, let alone suit up for real games. So you can certainly understand the logic in keeping the pair of guys we’ve seen play around, at least for a little while before banking on the promise Embiid offers if or when he starts seeing the court while remaining upright in 2016 and beyond.
2) Jahlil Okafor, the other “starting quarterback” Noel mentioned, finished last season on IR. He also was whyling out early in his rookie season, accompanied by a bad seed we didn’t need, Christian “Always Up To No Good” Wood. Add to that he showed signs of being able to so negatively affect team defense and not only hinder Noel but all his teammates even on offense according to most metrics despite him being a natural in terms of post moves who you could see getting 20/10’s regardless like a politer (if not outside a club late night), poor man’s DeMarcus Cousins. Still the sample size can’t help but be effected by the fact that the Sixers have been abject trash the entire time he’s been in uniform as well.
If I had my choice and we do indeed get to see a healthy Embiid?!?
Then it makes much more sense to deal Okafor, then re-sign Noel.
But for the Sixers, it makes sense for them to wait and time will tell.
While for their fans, excited to see the young talent finally start to gel?
We think we may end up in Heaven, because we’ve been living in Hell.
Most sensible fans understand all of this.
Many who trusted the process this long, only to see Sam Hinkie have to die for this organization's sins despite acquiring the assets that will allow us to trout out THREE potential Rookie of the Year candidates ("Super" Dario Saric, Embiid and Ben Simmons) to join Noel, Okafor, a slightly improved back-court, plus likely at least two possibly three more lotto picks next year...see what we’ve been building towards here.
Being blessed with that knowledge doesn't mean expecting Nerlens Noel, thus far the most proven and professional young talented piece on the roster, to tell you he digs swallowing dust or listening to the jackhammer.