Since it’s July, it’s probably a little too early to be talking about Christmas right? Well, not for NBA fans. When August comes around, the NBA schedule will be released and everyone will be looking to see who is playing on Christmas Day. You can be sure to see teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Golden State Warriors, the Oklahoma City Thunder, as well as some other high profile teams and players facing each other. This season, I want to ask the NBA, why not the Milwaukee Bucks? There’s a specific opponent I have in mind as well, the Philadelphia 76ers. Just three ago, that’s an impossible proposition. In the 2013-2014 season Milwaukee was a 15 win team, and Philly a 19 win team. Both teams have overcome past struggles and look to be the future of the NBA, and perhaps down the road they could be two of the best teams in the east. If the NBA wants it, there is money in this match up. If this game were given the spotlight, it could be the most anticipated game on Christmas.
The amount of potential young stars involved is one of the main reasons why this matchup makes so much sense. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Malcolm Brogdon, Ben Simmons, Thon Maker, and Markelle Fultz, would all be under the bright lights in that game. All of these players are fresh on the scene and the casual NBA fan should take note. Milwaukee is coming off of a 42-40 season where they made the playoffs and Giannis emerged as a bona fide superstar in the NBA. At his side would be Malcolm Brogdon, who made a name for himself last season going on to win the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. Unfortunately, Milwaukee would be without Jabari Parker for this matchup, after another devastating injury last season he won’t return until February. Even without Jabari Parker, the young star power is still there for this game. Philadelphia is bringing in one of the most interesting teams in years. The interest comes because the potential is almost impossible to put into words. The joke on the internet is “76ers 2020 NBA Champions”, and it might not be that much of a joke. Of course, it’s ridiculous to predict such things at this point, but they can be that good. First, they have to stay healthy and second we need to actually see these players play. Fultz and Simmons have yet to play an NBA game, and Embiid has only played 31 games. In Embiid’s case, the talent is there without any doubt. He just needs to stay on the court. With Simmons and Fultz, it’s likely they will be good NBA players, but we have no way of knowing for sure.
Perhaps even more interesting than the game on the court, is everything going on between the fan bases. If you are one that goes on Twitter or any social media platform frequently, you may have noticed that there is a rivalry being renewed between Philadelphia and Milwaukee. It’s fascinating how history repeats itself, isn’t it? Back in the 80’s the Bucks had their battles with the 76ers. In 2001, Milwaukee lost to Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference Finals. Now, after a down period for both teams, the rivalry is sprouting again. It’s almost fate. When Milwaukee and Philadelphia are good, they are sworn enemies. Things got a little heated on social media when Joel Embiid called Milwaukee something rather unfavorable.
That’s something that’s uncalled for, and obviously fans of the Bucks and Milwaukee residents weren’t pleased by this move. A pretty fascinating move at that, considering it was reported that he would wear a Milwaukee Bucks shirt around campus during his time at Kansas.
Not to mention, Joel Embiid is a Packer fan. He tweeted this out during the Super Bowl, and there are many other Packer tweets to be found.
Wisconsin fans have no idea what to do with you, Joel.
The temperature got turned up a little bit when Wes Edens made a remark that got Philadelphia’s attention. He said, “Guys in Philly want to talk about the process, I’d rather talk about the results”. You better believe that Philly took notice.
That was nothing compared to what happened at the NBA Awards in June. All season long, Philadelphia fans would brag and boast about how they had the two top Rookie of the Year candidates. Dario Saric and Joel Embiid. Well, as previously mentioned neither one of those men would win that award. The honor went to Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon. After his name was called, Twitter was set ablaze and every Philly fan had to let everyone know how moronic the voters and anyone who agreed with them were.
“Saric’s stats are better than Brogdon’s!” they would post.
“Embiid was the best rookie, games played shouldn’t matter!”
Unfortunately, for them, the voters didn’t agree and it wasn’t close. They sided with the rookie who helped lead his team to the playoffs. It’s not a stretch to say that if Brogdon weren’t on the team, the Bucks may not have been in the playoffs.
Although there are some extremists on both sides, I think there is genuine intrigue from fans that want to know, who is the future? Have the 76ers truly hit on all of their first round picks? Will they be able to stay healthy? Can Giannis be the best player in the NBA? There is a plethora of questions surrounding these teams. Can all of them be answered in a regular season game in late December? Of course not, but it gives them a stage. It gives them a way to show off their talents in a way that a normal game cannot provide. These games always net millions of viewers, that means millions of eyes seeing players they have only read about. Millions of eyes seeing jerseys they may want to buy and millions of eyes seeing the new faces of the eastern conference.
This game could have the makings of something special, and it could be the game that everyone remembers as the day this rivalry truly kicked off. Whether they would want it in Milwaukee or Philadelphia, it makes no difference. Of course, I would prefer the game to be in Milwaukee but the reaction Malcolm Brogdon is going to get in Philly whenever they play is going to be something to see. The same goes for Joel Embiid in Milwaukee. The fans have their targets and are ready to take aim. The players are young, hungry, and ready to prove something. It’s now up to the NBA to set up the stage.