76ers

Why do Sixers fans love tweeting trade requests at Elton John?

Why do Sixers fans love tweeting trade requests at Elton John?

Thursday's trade deadline came and went with a few noteworthy, but relatively minor, moves from the Sixers. Trey Burke and James Ennis left the team, Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III joined the team. No Ben Simmons-for-D'Angelo Russell blockbuster materialized, and troubled Al Horford stayed put.

Sixers fans, like all NBA fans, were thirsty for drama and updates all day long. But unlike other NBA fans, Sixers fans spent a good chunk of the day lobbing trade requests, serious and otherwise, at legendary rock musician Elton John's official Twitter account.

Like, the Elton John behind Tiny Dancer. The Elton John behind Crocodile Rock. But not the person behind last year's Tobias Harris mega-deal.

That, of course, would be Elton Brand, who was hired as the Sixers' general manager in September 2018. A former NBA player who played in the second of his two All-Star Games one month before Twitter was launched, Brand doesn't carry the robust social media presence of a modern NBA player like Joel Embiid.

But Sixers Twitter, a determined group of highly intense fans who survived three years of Very Bad Basketball - some would even say they had fun! - and came out the other side as hardened Internet users, refused to be thwarted by Twitter-less Elton. 

Instead, much like Eagles fans did with @ChipKelly, Sixers fans began tweeting at @EltonOfficial, all the while knowing the account wasn't tied to Brand, but was instead the official account of John.

Take this sampling of tweets from today's trade deadline madness:

These tweets pop up now and again, when news like especially spicy Woj Bombs or suddenly-available role players spins its way through the Greater Philadelphia Area's collective timeline.

Here are a few from this fall:

And here are a few from this past offseason, around free agency:

How did it start? It's difficult to pin down the germ of the idea, because it takes a particular whimsy to tag Elton John in a tweet about a random NBA free agent.

A quick dive through Twitter's Advanced Search feature seems to place the first Sixers front office-related @EltonOfficial tweets at February 2019, around last year's trade deadline. An exchange between including noted Philly Twitter Folk @Loctastic and @85mf referenced John's 1975 single "Philadelphia Freedom", a Boban Marjanovic GIF, and a now-defunct Twitter account. It's the perfect storm.

It isn't a perfect science, but this feels like the start of the @EltonOfficial movement.

The "why?" behind this is perhaps a bit easier to parse. In 2020, almost everyone has a Twitter account. Some, like Kevin Durant, hide their various social media presences. Others, like former Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long, bare it all in the interest of transparency. But the idea that someone would be entirely unreachable online - that a barrier between fans and the people they root for - is reaching extinction, and so Sixers fans found a stand-in: Elton John.

Stuff like this is what ties the universal, inscrutable language of Philly Sports Twitter together. It's weird, and it's dumb, and to outsiders it legitimately looks like nonsense.

To us? 

Okay, it's still dumb. But hilarious.

But there is the remote chance - and, let me tell you, it is an extremely remote chance - that Brand figured out Sixers fans' social media habits, contacted Elton John's official public relations team, and asked that they forward him these trade ideas. After all, it's important to bring it outside voices to make forward-thinking moves.

If that's the case, tweets like these may hold more water than we think:

It's probably not the case. But if it is... well, @EltonOfficial, thanks for listening.

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Adam Silver explains why NBA won't make a decision on 2019-20 season in April

Adam Silver explains why NBA won't make a decision on 2019-20 season in April

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Monday night in a conversation with TNT’s Ernie Johnson that the league will make no decisions on the state of its season in the month of April.

The NBA season has been suspended since March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Throughout his discussion with Johnson, Silver emphasized that there are too many unknowns for it to be wise to take definitive action at this stage.

Shortly after Silver’s remarks, ESPN’s Baxter Holmes reported the NBA was in the exploratory phase of assessing blood-testing devices for the coronavirus that could deliver results within 15 minutes. 

When we initially shut down … there was a notion of 30 days before there was any of the widespread view at that point that our country would, in essence, be entirely shut down over the next several weeks," Silver said. "And so the fact is, sitting here today, I know less, in a way, than I did then. Just as I listen to the public health experts and the people that are advising us, the virus is potentially moving faster than maybe we had thought at that point, and it therefore may peak earlier. What that means in terms of our ability to come back at some point in late spring or summer is still unknown to me. 

And essentially what I’ve told my folks over the past week is that we should just accept, at least for the month of April, we won’t be in a position to make any decisions. I don’t think that necessarily means on May 1 we will be. But at least I do know, I think just to settle everyone down a little, it doesn’t mean internally … that we aren’t looking at many different scenarios for restarting the season. But I think it honestly is just too early, given what’s happening right now, to be able to project or predict where we’ll be in a few weeks.

Silver was asked by Johnson if a resumed season would pick up in the playoffs, with the remaining regular-season games canceled. If the season had continued as normal, the final regular-season games would have taken place on Sunday. 

“Honestly, we haven’t made any decisions,” he said. “In a perfect world, yes, we would try to finish the regular season in some form and then move on to the playoffs. … What I’ve learned over the last few weeks is we just have too little information to make those sort of projections.” 

He touched on a few of the reported options on the table for the league, including a postseason at a single site such as Las Vegas, and indicated the NBA has indeed considered several of those possibilities.

“There’s been a lot of conjecture about various cities and places that might hold a tournament,” Silver said. “Again, we’re in listening mode right now. We’ve been contacted by many of those jurisdictions [about] what our level of interest is and we’ve talked to them about what their capabilities are. But once again, there’s too much unknown right now.” 

Silver also addressed how the NBA might change in future seasons. He indicated arenas may need to institute physical distancing policies. 

“I’m hoping, at least, that those are short-term issues where we might have to put in effect some sort of social distancing when people first come back to arenas,” he said. “I think a lot of that is specific to this virus and when there might be a vaccine, and if there’s an interim period, even when we’re back to work, where there’s not a vaccine yet — there’s concern about a second wave, what will we need to do?

"But I also have tremendous belief in this country. What’s amazing about Americans not only is their resilience, but the spirit of innovation. … I think we’re going to see a new approach to a lot of these problems.”

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Ben Simmons not-so-subtly hinted at a Sixers trade target over the weekend

Ben Simmons not-so-subtly hinted at a Sixers trade target over the weekend

We've reached the second calendar month of the NBA's hiatus, and Sixers star Ben Simmons is still chatting basketball while streaming his Call of Duty matches on Twitch.

In March, Simmons talked about his views on the best defenders in the league - a list, I'll note, which should include Simmons himself. Over the first weekend of April, Simmons was reading the chat on his stream when he decided to choose a very... interesting comment to read aloud:

Hmm. 

I wonder why Simmons decided to read that comment, out of the hundreds he sees during a stream, and then remind us that he's just reading the comments.

At least one commenter in the chat called out "tampering!", but it's not tampering if you're just reading ideas from other people!

In reality, of course, this is just Simmons joking around with the basketball world. He knows fans (and writers) are glued to things like Twitch streams and Instagram feeds without actual basketball to talk about, so he peppered in a little wink-wink, nudge-nudge joke for us to get fired up about.

Still, it makes you wonder...

Booker would probably be a great fit on today's Sixers team. He's a two-guard who can shoot from anywhere on the floor and create his own shot at will, and he's played point guard in the past, which would help keep the offense running when Simmons checks out. Booker's defense being an afterthought isn't much a problem, considering the Sixers are loaded with great defenders.

The real problem for the Sixers would be acquiring, and affording, Booker. He's in the first year of a five-year max contract with the Suns, so waiting for his contract to end isn't viable. And his deal brings a cap hit of $27 million this year, and climbs each year, all the way up to $36 million by the last year of his contract in 2023-24, when Joel Embiid turns 30.

If the Sixers were somehow able to convince the Suns to take one of Al Horford or Tobias Harris off their hands in exchange for Booker - along with other valuable assets headed to Phoenix, of course - it might be possible to balance a payroll with minimum contract players and young, affordable talent around a core of Embiid, Simmons, and Booker.

But I can't imagine the Suns would jettison their only superstar, who is somehow still just 23 years old, unless they decide to blow it up in the next year or two. So instead we're left dreaming, and making trades in NBA 2K20, and waiting for Simmons' next dispatch.

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