On the Afternoon (or evening in Rio time) of August 7th , 2016, Pau Gasol received an inbound pass on the left block, 5 feet from the basket with 1.8 seconds left on the clock.
He attempted a hook shot, that we’ve seen him make thousands of times in the NBA, to try and force overtime against the Croatian Men’s Basketball team.
In that same instance, Dario Saric, the incoming rookie for the 76ers, came screeching out of the sky like a war hawk from the weak side and sent Gasol’s hook shot into the 5th dimension, sealing the 72-70 upset win, after being down 16 points at one point, over Spain.
At the same time we heard 76er fans scream across the world… “TRUST THE PROCESS”.
This Summer has been nirvana for Sixer fans, who have endured three straight seasons of tanking (aka THE PROCESS). They got to watch Ben Simmons make ridiculous passes during the NBA Summer league, and now they are watching Saric -who Sixer fans have affectionately nicknamed “The Homie”, play Olympic basketball.
Saric, the 12th pick in the 2014 NBA draft during then-General Manager Sam Hinkie’s regime (trading Elfrid Payton to the Magic for that 12th pick) is finally coming over to the NBA to play for the team that drafted him after being overseas for two seasons, and while he didn’t shoot well against Spain, he displayed his other skills, rebounding, passing, and pushing the ball in transition as a 6-10 “power forward”.
The toughness of Saric is one of the qualities that instantly shows up in a game, just before his game-saving block against Gasol, Saric made 1 out of 2 free throws to push the lead to 72-70, and before that he collided knees with Pau Gasol and fell to the floor in obvious pain as Spain made a three to cut the Croatian lead to 71-70.
The entire game Saric was not shooting well, but he found other ways to impact the game, ranging from checking Pau Gasol, grabbing a tough rebound in traffic and throwing a full court pass with touch, leading the leak out teammate for an easy layup.
Saric finished the game only tallying seven points on 1-7 shooting and 3-6 from the free-throw line, but he pulled down seven rebounds, dished out five assists, had one game-saving block, and he also gained the love of Sixer fans everywhere.
Another anecdote we can take away from the game is with Saric, Rodrigez, and Simmons all on the 76er roster this upcoming season, we will see the ball zipping around the court with crisps passes as these young players run the floor in transition.
Every game, every dribble, every dive for a loose ball, will bring more hope for fans as Saric and this young Croatian team continues its Olympic campaign.
And somehow, I get the feeling that Saric knows that the Sixer fan base is watching and he wants to prove himself, and for that, he has shown he really is The Homie.