Monday, July 10, 2017

Joel Embiid, Lonzo Bell, And The No-Beef Diet

I Cropped Lavar
Item: Joel Embiid, the Sixers' star center and best player in the laundry since Allen Iverson, has beef with the Lakers' first round pick, combo guard Lonzo Bell, and Bell's wrestling heel of a father, Lavar.

This has led to a $10K fine from the NBA to Embiid for a profane Instagram post to Bell, and a GoFundMe campaign from Sixer faithful who want to pay Embiid's fine for him.

(blinks)

No, seriously.

I know it's the silly season; summer, when the only games that count are baseball, and hoop fans are paying too much attention to NBA Summer League games because there are clues, dammit, of who the good rookies are going to be. (Hopefully, this occurs without injury.) I also get that beefs between players are catnip to many people, mostly because they aren't capable of just admitting that, well, they prefer WWE-style shenanigans to Actual Game.

Because the fact of the matter is that Embiid and Bell are *never* going to have a level of beef that actually impacts the game on the court. The Sixers and Lakers play twice a year. They aren't going to meet in the Finals again anytime soon, and while their battles in the '70s, '80s and Iverson's lone run to the Finals in 2001 were among the most meaningful games in the history of the Sixer franchise, they aren't all that likely to be replicated in our lifetime. Even if the Sixers are the next great superteam -- and honestly, bet against it, because as good as Embiid is, he's got to stay healthy, and as good as Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric and others may become, the chance to be great and actually being great are worlds apart...

Well, the Lakers just hired Magic Johnson to be their GM. Who hosted "The Magic Hour", and was the worst analyst ever heard on an NBA national game. Short of making money after hoop, and the Lakers being desperate for relevance in the post-Sterling Clipper Age, I'm not seeing why the guy got the gig. Watching him ship D'Angelo Russell out of town for the defense-free injured stylings of 29 going on 35 C Brook Lopez from the Nets doesn't exactly fill me with confidence that he's going to start fleecing guys in trades, either. In the contiunuum of ex-player turned GMs, Magic is trending to the Kevin McHale/Zeke Thomas dunce end, rather than the Joe Dumars/Jerry West Guys With Rings side. (Honestly, making your ex-star your GM doesn't seem to be a winning trick. Michael Jordan might be the worst GM in the last 20 years, and for all of the picks that Danny Ainge has hoarded, his C's are the very definition of Paper Tiger. Larry Bird's also been a sham for the Pacers, too. Anyway, moving on.)

So what's going to be the blowoff from all of this? Maybe a moment or two when Embiid blocks a Bell shot, or fouls him hard, and Angry Glances are exchanged. Perhaps even some players moving towards each other, with Shoving. Then the refs will jump in, wussy double technicals will be called, and both players will remember, oh, yeah, Game Actually Matters More Than Bullspit, at which point Game will continue.

Honestly, beef is just the worst, and I know... we're never going to get to live in a world where everyone's too smart to give a damn about it. Besides, Bell seems to have a talent and family support for rubbing people the wrong way. Expect the line of people wanting to torch him to be long, and far more local.

But if you really have to eat beef, here's something to consider.

Fultz was traded away by the Celtics to their greatest historic local rival. Between two cities who have ire over football and hockey, who are a long car ride away from each other, and who don't like each other for Actual Reasons, some of which go back hundreds of years.

He's going to play them four times a year, in the same division, with a more than reasonable chance of meeting them in the playoffs. More than once, even.

I get that he's not Embiid, and you don't really know or love him yet, but if anyone's bringing red meat to the table...

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