There’s an iconic moment on the TV show “Lost.” Well, there are a few, but in particular, one of the essence when it comes to the Philadelphia 76ers 2022-23. Dive into the show’s dizzying third season, as the cast leaves their allegorical island and in some unknown location during their puzzling space-time journey, the dodgy Jack , always encountering the crippled hero complex, has an unusually large beard and a bandage on his forehead. With trembling despair, he told the sober, pragmatic Kate that they “Must go back” to the struggle they once knew. As she got in the car and left the scene, she looked at him incredulously.
Often repurposed as a meme in the form of screenshots or GIFs, its indelible frames and lines of dialogue exhibit a broader pattern of nostalgia – often the questionable type, known to any who have ever tried to return to their hometown or college campus and act like they did decades ago, only to be met with disappointment and emptiness. Given the moves he’s made over the past few months, 76ers general manager Daryl Morey could be charged with exactly this kind of behavior.
It begins with the James Harden transaction – and airport conveyor belt hug that comes with it – but then escalated this summer when he added three more players he worked with while running the Houston Rockets: PJ Tucker, Danuel House Jr. and Montrezl Harrell.
Rumor has it that Morey is also looking for Eric Gordon to trade, and for all we know, he might end up going to Philly anyway. In the collection of all these players, there is a clear sense that the unfinished business, has been moved from the Western Conference 5 years ago to the Eastern Conference now. What Morey’s Rockets failed to do then, and hopes to do now, is represented by the pain Harden, Tucker, and Gordon felt were just a little too close to the Golden State Warriors in the 2018 Western Conference Finals.
In Joel Embiid, it seems that those broken dreams have found a new ground. As one of the most physically powerful players the game has ever seen, Embiid is the most prominent of the Sixers’ non-Rocket achievements; This list is not just about finding the stuff of time machine, but a combination of that and more transcendental talent. There’s Embiid, there’s the nimble and terrifying Tyrese Maxey, along with newcomer De’Anthony Melton, a versatile and dynamic 24-year-old in defense. In the middle of it all was Tobias Harris, a stout and efficient winger who had been marked for an exit as long as Morey was there, but remained in place nonetheless.
Without Harris, the lineup would theoretically make more sense: imagine Embiid and Tucker’s vast journey, complemented by Maxey’s jarring contrasts and Melton’s athleticism, with it all were all orchestrated by Harden’s shimmering basketball brain. That’s the idea the Sixers’ most optimistic forecasters have in mind. And while that might turn out to be the most devastating look Philly can give, the less-romantic truth about Harris’s up-and-down numbers will help them win the free season’s regular games. he’s next to him.
Between Tucker, Harrell and Paul Reed – who should be polished and familiar enough for head coach Doc Rivers to increase his minutes in season three – Embiid also has more of the ball behind him in the center than he does. he is used to. In theory, the team has improved a lot, with most of their weaknesses gone. But there’s still a ghost-like, unimaginable thing that haunts Morey and the Harden’s Rockets: when it comes down to it, a certain spirit seems to drain out of this team, almost no matter who is on it. there.
It happened again when the Sixers lost to an arguably much less talented Miami Heat team in the second round of last year’s playoffs, in a strange head-to-head fashion. Embiid is injured, he seems to be every spring, but there’s more to the Sixers’ downfall than that. The team looked more limp than in battle.
Perhaps the wave of people who were once the Rockets, accused like Jack after the island to fix the past, can help correct such listlessness. It’s possible their reunion could form a unique brand of cinematic emotional fuel, and Morey is out of date with a delicate balance between a difficult experience and a new hunger of youth in mind. Across the distinct halves of this Sixers team is, in any case, a shadow of frustration at the game’s highest stages and a desire to escape it. With the exception of Tucker, who won it all with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021, this is a team united by that burden of proof.