If you watched the 76ers kick off their 2016-2017 season in Boston last night, decades from now you’ll be able to tell your grandchildren that you saw one of the greatest Sixers to ever put on the uniform suit up for the first time in his long and successful career.
The energy was insane leading up to this game. Can anyone remember another time that this city got so pumped up for a 76ers preseason game? How about even a regular season game? It didn’t come close.
Twitter was bumping. The Hinkie-ites were out in full force, puffing out their chests, saying “look at what our fallen leader has done for you. Be thankful, Philadelphia.” Even the national media was paying attention, keeping at least one eye on the 76ers during opening night of the MLB postseason.
It was all because of one man. The man who so many have already labeled a savior of the organization despite only playing sparse minutes in one preseason game.
It was a long time coming, but we finally got our first glimpse of Brandon Paul.
He did not disappoint.
The free-agent signee came off the bench for the squad last night and quickly lit the world on fire. It was a perfect debut, especially after Brett Brown wisely had benched an ineffective, nameless rookie center the guards kept feeding for what seemed like the entire first half. Hey, maybe look to pass once in a while and stop settling for jump shots? Cannot wait for that loser to get cut and we can separate the wheat from the chaff on this team.
The guard, freshly signed from the Spanish club FIATC Joventut, dropped a game-high 15 points and quickly won over the fans of this city that have been clamoring for a winner since 2001.
His off the charts basketball IQ was on full display, as he also notched two steals (a team high) and four rebounds. He guided the team with a steady hand, directing traffic, barking out orders, doling out praise when need be. He’s the leader this young and inexperienced team needs.
He’s a franchise guard with transformative talent and he lived up to the billing. He was exactly what everyone had hoped for since we heard about him for the first time in 2014. It was a perfect debut.
Remember this week, Philadelphia. Things like this normally don’t happen to this city, but maybe out luck has finally turned a corner.
You got your first look at the future and at greatness, and it looks mighty bright to me.