Philadelphia 76ers: The headband brothers are here to stay

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

After wearing matching headbands in a pair of blowout Philadelphia 76ers wins, Jimmy Butler and Ben Simmons may have to keep the trend going indefinitely.

With a win over the Memphis Grizzlies, the Philadelphia 76ers have closed out yet another homestand undefeated, in what’s become an incredibly common occurrence at the Wells Fargo Center.

While this particular game was a whole lot closer than the team’s last two wins over the New York Knicks and the Washington Wizards, it still featured highlight reel moments by the team’s principle players that will be remembered fondly by fans in attendance for years to come.

From Joel Embiid‘s posterizing block to Ben Simmons‘ fake out slam dunk on fellow point forward Kyle Anderson, the Sixers simply outplayed the surging, ‘Grit ‘N Grind’ Grizzlies at both ends of the court.

But what’s changed over the last week to make this happen? How did the Sixers go from a team that collapses in the third quarter and has to fight back to win on a buzzer beater, to a dominant squad capable of preventing three straight opponents from scoring in triple digits?

It’s the headbands; it’s obviously Jimmy Butler and Ben Simmons’ matching headbands.

A gift from Butler to Simmons, though the duo can’t seem to agree on who prompted who to wear them in-game, these white headbands have served as almost a secret handshake between the two guard/forwards as they attempt to reestablish a defensive identity in Philly’s new ‘Scoring 20’s’ Big 3-era.

And reestablish it they have.

Not only have the 76ers kept their opponent from scoring 100-plus points in three straight games, but the duo has combined for an astounding 26 plus-minus against New York, Memphis, and Washington, their best stretch so far this season.

Now one could argue that outside of Memphis, who isn’t exactly known as a high-flying offensive juggernaut, the Sixers haven’t really been challenged over their most recent homestand, and that’s a fair statement to make, but after being too close for comfort in games against the Charlotte Hornets, Phoenix Suns, and Brooklyn Nets, and actually dropping games to the Orland Magic (who are surprisingly good) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (who are not), it’s nice to see the team blowing out lesser opponents with ease, and giving valuable minutes to players like Shake Milton and Furkan Korkmaz.

Even head coach Brett Brown seems to be getting in on the fun.

In his post-game press conference following the Sixers’ win over the Knicks, Coach Brown echoed his love of the headbands stating:

"“They are defensive brothers. They’re blood brothers. That band signifies to me they’re bonding, a defensive bonding. I’ve asked Jimmy to put Ben under his wing and really help Ben be all he can be defensively”"

While it may not be as evident to the untrained eye as, say, his game-winning 3-pointers against the Hornets and the Nets, Butler has made a name for himself as one of the NBA’s more passionate leaders, willing to give it his all on both ends of the court for every second he’s in a game.

Has this passion burned down a pair of teams and left a trail of scorched earth in his path? Totally, but when utilized correctly, Butler’s fire and supercharge a team’s engine as they ram through lesser competition in route to a home playoff series.

By giving Simmons a headband, Butler effectively declared the 22-year-old sophomore to be his equal, and by extension expects him to rise to the occasion to form an incredibly formidable defensive duo, and so far it’s worked.

It’s worked so well, in fact, that the duo may have to continue wearing the headbands until the team loses again, even with their most recent homestand now in the books.

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In sports where superstitions often hold weight, things like lucky socks, lucky shoes, or playoff beards can help to keep a team’s streak rolling. For the Philadelphia 76ers, Simmons and Butler’s headbands may be their playoff beards, and to keep the basketball gods on their side, the duo should keep that trend going indefinitely…at least until they lose another game.