The Furkan Hype Video: Possibly a Ben Simmons Subtweet, Definitely a Ben Simmons Antidote
This is exactly what we needed
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When I first heard that there was a Furkan Korkmaz hype training video going around, my instinct was basically to never watch it. Or at least to delay watching it until the absolute perfect time: maybe on my balcony at sunset on a 70-degree Friday, breeze blowing lightly through my thinning hair, Bulleit bourbon on ice in my left hand, bag of Herr's ketchup potato chips in my right. A joy that special, that singular -- you only get it for the first time once, and that deserved to be delayed, to be savored, to be appreciated. (I ended up watching it for the first time on a weekday morning with a karaoke hangover; that's Sixers fandom for you.)
Anyway, there's probably not too much I can say about The Ecstasy of Kork that hasn't already been said at this point, over half a week after it swept through like wildfire, the final Truly Offseason moment of the Sixers' summer before media day yesterday officially marked the return of the Sixers schoolyear as imminent. But having mostly missed the discourse about the video in real time -- I was stuck on Washed Rock Critic Twitter celebrating a bunch of 30th anniversaries late last week anyway -- my biggest reaction to and comment about the clip is: It's gotta be a Ben Simmons response, right?
Maybe not an intentional one, of course. Our Sweet Furkan does not seem like a subtweeter by nature -- particularly not of a teammate, no matter how currently disgraced. Embiid, I could definitely see it, perhaps Tobias in an unguarded moment, but Kork does not generally move what that kind of insidious intentionality; his maneuvering is inscrutable but mostly pure of heart.
Still, the timing is interesting. It comes near the end of a long offseason defined by Ben Simmons melodrama and (as usual) Ben Simmons gym shooting -- as Joel himself put it yesterday (with no shortage of implied eye-rolling), I'm sure we've all seen the videos at this point. To drop such a video while the Simmons rumors and reports are swelling to a fever pitch, perhaps on the cusp of finally reaching their denouement, days before all the Sixers except one were expected to report for training camp... it's interesting, is all.
The video itself also seems somewhat pointed. Perhaps not as much for what's there as for what isn't: shooting. There's plenty of itaining, a handful of layups, and a truly hilarious amount of dunking, in the 109-second clip, I counted exactly one instance of Korkmaz taking a jump shot and making it. (There are a couple more clips where he takes a jumper, then in another shot, the ball goes in -- like he was Air Bud or something -- but I don't count those.) For a guy who had three games this season where he attempted more threes than Simmons took all year to make a hype video almost entirely devoid of shooting almost feels like it has to be purposeful, Kork going, hey I don't need to prove myself by swishing a bunch of treys in an empty gym, UNLIKE SOME PEOPLE.
And the whole thing feels... kinda confrontational? I don't know of a lot of NBA hype videos these days with conspicuously western showdown theme music, or with this much of a focus on hypervigilant training, with the visuals of leg resistance bands snapping timed to the sounds of horse-whipping. The video doesn't feel like Kork jogging through the streets of north Philly or testing himself by running up the Museum of Philadelphia steps, it feels like him going off to the frozen tundra of the USSR to chop wood and carry tobogans and shit, thoughts of one primary antagonist fueling his burning heart.
Again, probably not purposeful. Korkmaz has felt like a future ex-Sixer himself at about a half-dozen different points in his Process tenure -- hell, he's even asked for a trade as many times as Simmons has -- so it's hard to imagine he's particularly galled by Ben's own lack of all-in team spirit. At media day yesterday, Furk was equanimous, generous and diplomatic when asked about his point-guard-not-point-guard teammate: "I love playing with him and would love to play with him. I hope he's going to be happy and we're going to be happy in the end." (He also apparently wished Simmons a "healthy and good life," which is both genuinely touching and at least 30% foreboding.)
It's just still hard to think of anything Sixers-related outside of a Simmons context right now. The reason I didn't want to watch the video in the first place wasn't just because i wanted the setting to be right -- I also wanted myself to be right, which is a much bigger ask these days. As appreciated as this video was -- and I can't remember the last time Sixers Twitter had something to uniformly celebrate like this -- I can't totally enjoy anything frivolous or fun with this team until the cord is cut on Simmons, and with it, the symbolic tethering of these Sixers to the ones who we last saw getting booed off their own floor after getting put in the Huerter Locker for the third time in four home games. So yeah, the only way I can properly appreciate this video at the moment is to view it as a shot fired while fighting the good fight against our smirking common enemy.
It's still a great video regardless, natch. The Scorsese-like zoom-ins. The Herb Ritts-like close-ups of Kork's glistening neck. Both the net and the ball being on fire for some reason. The wide closing shot of Furk taking off from the charge circle for a climactic slam -- just like Jordan in '87! I appreciate it all on some level, and it's clearly something Process Trusters needed late last week. But I guess there's really only one truly perfect scenario which we'd be best served saving this video for: immediately after Ben gets traded.