The 8 Most Annoying Twitter Takes to Prepare Yourself For During The NBA Season Reboot
Kendrick Perkins welcomed us back to reality.
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Ahhh, sweet talking head oblivion. If this year had gone as planned, right now we'd be preparing for an expectation-less Summer League, with a squad led by [late first-round pick whose name Spike gets cartoonishly wrong], [early second-round pick SixersAdam researches way too much about] and [late second-round pick Mike still swears by a decade into his career as a role player in Latvia] -- blessedly free from the takesman's watchful glare. But because the world was one big record scratch noise for four months in the middle of the season there, instead here we are in early July, with the takes only just starting to rev up again.
Sixers fans were reminded of this when a quarantine-bearded Kendrick Perkins showed up on Twitter yesterday via (appropriately) First Take, and decided it was time to give our Joel Embiid the Glen "Big Baby" Davis treatment. Perkins blasted JoJo for his comments expressing reticence and skepticism concerning the Bubble Ball reboot -- because, y'know, the world is still a mess and Florida in particular is one big animated thermometer with the mercury fountaining out of the top. Quoth Perk:
"I don't hear none of the other contenders complaining... I don't hear LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard complaining, I don't hear Jayson Tatum and Giannis complaining... to me this is just an excuse, [if Philly] get knocked out this is gonna be the excuse, because their superstar was halfway in. His mental wasn't there. 'Aww, I'm complaining, I don't know, I don't like the idea.' Man, go down there and hoop!"
So yeah, now we're not just complaining about players sitting out, we're telling those that do go even despite their misgivings that they need to Smile More. Unsurprising: This is the take economy we all indulge in one way or another, and with this compressed mini-season and postseason -- following the most content-starved four months in the history of sports media -- they're going to be coming faster and furioser than ever before.
Best to steel yourself for them now, I'd say. Here are eight types of head-steaming takes you'll be seeing circulating on Twitter soon enough.
"[Player] didn't work on his game/body enough during the pause"
Yes, we'd love for Ben Simmons to have developed a jumper, for Matisse Thybulle to have become a knock-down shooter, for Shake Milton to have bulked up and for Al Horford and Tobias Harris to have slimmed their contracts down. But yeah, it's just not gonna work quite like that. We over-assume progress even in a normal offseason, and this was far from that -- who knows what these guys had access to in quarantine, how much their routines were disrupted, what mental and/or physical struggles they had while the world was in multiple levels of crisis? If you're expecting all of these dudes to come back looking like the New Hotness versions of their older selves -- as any number of folks who should know better undoubtedly will -- get used to disappointment.
"[Coach]/[Player] didn't do enough to keep the team together during the pause"
When the team suffers a bad early loss -- August 5th against the Ish Smith-led Wizards, I'm telling you, mark it down in the magicest of marker -- the blame for how out of sorts the team looks will likely come on its leaders. Get ready for the revival of the Fire Brett Brown brigade and the Why Do Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons Secretly Hate Each Other pinkertons, as lack of off-court togetherness gets snuffed out as the root cause for what truly ails this too-many-edge-pieces puzzle of a team. Of course, that'll still be infinitely preferable to...
"[Player] should be less focused on social justice and more focused on his game."
Oh, you know this one's coming. Lord help Tobias Harris or Josh Richardson the first time they slump in Bubble Ball -- help them stay off social media, at least, where the All Lives Matterers will be out in full force trying to clown on them for being at protest marches when they could've been in the gym, practicing not sucking. On the plus side, some of them may end up coming for Mike Scott, too, and the results there should be at least as comic as they are tragic.
"Is [Player] sick/injured or are they just dogging it because they don't want to be here?"
Questions of enthusiasm will of course lead to questions of toughness, and Joel is particularly vulnerable here -- he's already had to deal with a season of Shaq and Chuck trying to noogie him every time he's not 100%, not to mention all the flak he took for his lower body and tummy issues in the Raptors series last year. Even with such nick-nack injuries likely plentiful in a compressed post-season without much ramp-up time, JoJo is unlikely to get the benefit of the doubt here. He probably won't be the only one, anyway -- there'll be other Sixers that misses time while failing to toe the company line, and they'll be similarly susceptible to such irritating questioning.
We bet on over/unders for the Sixers entire stay during the Hostage Orlando Playoffs (play the free pool to win $500 on Draft Kings) including starts by Horford, threes by Embiid and Covington vs.
"They should've signed Jamal Crawford over keeping [player]"
Well, can't really argue with this one actually.
"Did [player] sneak out of the Bubble?"
You best believe Twitter is gonna be on #BubbleWatch 24/7. We all assume (Embiid included) that there's no way every player is going to abide by the Disney rules of staying in the hotel, playing ping pong and eating delicious airplane food. So as soon as anything goes wrong with a player -- they're benched, they're listed out with a vague injury, they're missing altogether -- the assumptions about them staging a Bubble Break are gonna be everywhere. And if anyone actually tests positive... well, in that case I suppose the takes might be the least of our concerns anyway. (And then of course if a player is caught outside the bubble, we'll have the super-fun "did [player] snitch on [player] for sneaking out of the bubble?" questions to contend with as well.)
"[Player] should have just stayed home"
The nuclear take, but one that will get applied to any number of underperforming, malcontented and/or outspoken players of varying degrees of importance during the season restart. Gassed in overtime? Shoulda stayed home. Wearing gear with non-NBA-sanctioned BLM messaging on it? Shoulda stayed home. Questioning whether this is all sustainable? Well why'd you even come in the first place? Frankly, it's pretty remarkable that no one on the Sixers has beaten the haters to the punch there, though a couple of them may well wish they had by the time this is all over.
"It's all an asterisk anyway"
This last one isn't about the Sixers or any of their players -- not specifically, not yet -- but it's the one that might ultimately drive me battiest: the inevitable undercutting of the stakes of this postseason with the qualification that this is all tainted by highly unusual circumstances anyway. I mean, true -- but how often in basketball history has there been a title that didn't include some major asterisk? Fluke injuries, bad refs, suspensions -- some folks even insisted that the lockout-shortened season made the Heat's 2012 title a less-than. This is an extreme example, of course but it's still basketball, and if we're gonna do this thing, we've gotta sorta agree in advance that it still means something. (At least until the Sixers lose, at which point the NBA is solely to blame for forcing us to spend months within the Markelle Fultz vortex, and who can take any of this seriously, anyway?)