With their new upper-echelon power forward, the Philadelphia 76ers have gotten off to a slow start. They are just 5-6 and struggling at the offensive end (19th in efficiency) three and a half weeks into the season.
Without their former upper-echelon power forward, the Clippers have stumbled out of the gate. They sit at 2-9 and aren't doing much right on either side of the ball, ranking 29th and 24th in offensive and defensive efficiency respectively.
So Friday night's tilt in the City of Brotherly Love won't quite be a clash of the titans. But it is still Part I of the Clips-versus-Elton-Brand drama.
Sure, the real moment of intrigue for Brand will likely come when he returns to the Staples Center as a visitor on the final day of 2008. For now, it will be interesting to see how he interacts with his former teammates and coach.
ESPN reports that the 'mates swear all is well and wish him nothing but the best. Same goes for coach Mike Dunleavy, who simply seems miffed that the two have yet to speak since Brand decided to head to Philadelphia. We'll learn a bit more about how much those comments mean when we see the exchanges Brand has with the visitors tonight.
In the meantime, it seems worth noting that the Clips' fan base isn't as forgiving as the forwards former teammates claim to be. Columbian Missourian hoops scribe Bill Powell dabbled in some Clips blogging over the past two years, and he previously described the situation amongst Clippers fans to me as the following dilemma: Should they be peeved at Brand for reneging on his word and turning on the team, or should they be peeved at Brand for falling victim to superagent David Falk's influence, which led him to the dollar signs rather than professed loyalty?
Doesn't seem like a fun internal debate. Any Clips fans out there feel like weighing in (or doing some venting) on Brand once more? Is Bill's assessment correct?
Curious to see what tonight's visit from the Clippers brings. It should be a nice warm-up for the Clips' trip out west come December's end.