December 03, 2019
Judging on how T.J. McConnell was received during his return to Philadelphia, you would have thought the Sixers had a fairly respectful relationship with the Indiana Pacers. There haven't been any standout incidents between the two teams in recent years, nor is there any bad playoff blood.
And yet, one man finds himself mad about the very existence of the Sixers. Pacers assistant coach Dan Burke, who has long been credited as the defensive guru in Indiana, got a little spicy during the broadcast of Monday night's Pacers vs. Grizzlies game.
"I hate that team," Burke said of the Sixers. "I really wanted to win that game [on Saturday]. I think Embiid gets away with a bunch of crap the league ignores, and it would have been a good one to just walk away from."
This is a man who genuinely does not like the Sixers. We rarely see assistant coaches do television appearances at all, let alone ones where they're firing shots at an opponent they could meet in the playoffs down the line.
The Sixers came into the season intent on playing bully ball, so you come away thinking one thing when you hear an opponent say this — that's kind of the point. Being a team opponents hate to play against is a great thing that teams would revel in, even if they think it comes off as a little salty.
Brett Brown certainly took it that way when asked about it at practice on Tuesday afternoon.
"How do you want to be judged, what would you want an opposition player, team, coach, whoever, to say about you? What would you like to feature on a scout tape? That you know for 82 games, here it is," Brown said when asked about it as a hypothetical. "It would be received as a compliment."
So Brett, what if I told you a coach went and said that on television during an unrelated game on Monday night?
"I would bring him to my house for Christmas and he could share in the Christmas dinner," Brown said, adding that there was a caveat for the Joel Embiid portion of the quote. "He would not be able to have dessert, because I don't agree with him, but he can still eat at the house if it was delivered the way you just said, if it was offered as a compliment to bully ball and tough and physical and yes we have a post-up team, dinner. If he's hitting Joel, no dessert. That's how it works."
Unfortunately, Joel Embiid did not speak to reporters after practice on Tuesday afternoon, so the reaction of the man in question will have to wait for at least another day. His alleged dialing back of the trash talk will be tested when he finally has a chance to speak on the matter.
Oh, by the way, the Pacers and Sixers play again on New Year's Eve, which suddenly has a little bit more juice. Some champagning and complaining will be on the menu.
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