CAMDEN, N.J. — The first few questions Kyle O’Quinn received after the Sixers’ practice Tuesday afternoon weren’t about his on-court performance, Sunday’s loss to the Nets or the team’s game Wednesday vs. the Heat.
They were about a post he’d liked on Instagram from the account @sixersland which showed that Trey Burke’s father was unhappy with his son’s playing time.
Burke responded Monday via a statement released to The Inquirer, saying he didn’t share his dad’s views (see story).
Tuesday, it was O’Quinn’s turn to give an explanation.
I like pretty much everything on Instagram if it’s Sixers-related. That’s why I follow those pages. I think they support you during the good times and bad times. If you noticed, that was a tweet — a tweet posted on Instagram. I just liked the post on Instagram so it’s not like I went and retweeted it, commented, shared my thoughts — [it was] between the social world where they just kind of bridge. In your eyes, social media is social media.
To be honest, I didn’t even know that was his dad’s Twitter handle. I’ve met him several times, but he’s always been Mr. Burke to me. A name like that, I didn’t [realize who it was], but I just liked it because it’s a fan sharing their insight on the game.
The 29-year-old O’Quinn signed a one-year deal for the veteran minimum this summer to serve as insurance behind Joel Embiid and Al Horford. He’s played in 17 of the Sixers’ first 28 games and averaged 9.9 minutes per game. According to him, the like didn’t serve as an indication that he’s dissatisfied with his personal situation.
“No, I mean, it had nothing to do with me,” he said. “Nothing to do with me. It was just a Philly post and a like is just kind of like acknowledgement. So if a guy goes down on another team and you like that post, am I cheering that on? I don't think so. I'm just acknowledging it. If I want to add a comment to say my thoughts, I will, but a like I think is a little harmless and more thought deeply on your part.”
O’Quinn said he was aware of negative reaction to his like, though he chose to focus on the passion of the Sixers’ fanbase.
“Of course, and that's just the beauty of the Philly fans,” he said. “They're locked in. Good games, bad games. I had breakfast the other day and a kid yelled out, “15 in a row at home.” I mean, the kid was so young, but he was so locked in, it's probably passed down from his parents. So that's just the love of Philadelphia basketball and all the sports, I'm sure.”
O’Quinn’s role has been taken the last two games by Norvel Pelle, one of the Sixers’ two-way players. Pelle, who has nine blocks in 57 NBA-regular season minutes, has impressed Brett Brown with his rim protection.
After the Sixers’ loss Sunday in Brooklyn, Brown told reporters Pelle “was the shining light of what otherwise was a long night.”
Brown said Tuesday he expects he’ll continue to give Pelle significant minutes.
“I do,” he said. “I would preface it by saying this: are Al and Joel available? I think lately I have gone with Norvel ahead of Kyle. And I think that he's shown promise on why that is. And I think Kyle was doing just fine. It's just Norvel is something a little bit different as it relates to shot blocking, rim protection. And so we wanted to test drive that and I thought what I saw, I was impressed with.”
That leaves O’Quinn in an uncertain spot, seemingly without a clear idea of when he’ll next see extended minutes.
He was in a similar situation last season with the Pacers, when he played 45 games and averaged 8.2 minutes.
“I’m dealing with it on my own,” he said. “I’m always ready. I think a lot of people can attest to that on my behalf. And I think that I do a good job of what I can handle. Speaking of Twitter posts, that's one of my posts that I do: 'Control what you can control.' I think I do OK with that. Outside of that, it's whenever coach calls my number.
"Last year was tough — that's just the obvious, just having me stating it, but for the most part, I mean, the reality is the reality. Last year was tough and this year is still brewing.”
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