There’s nothing more fun than when a new dominant duo emerges in the NBA, especially when they play for your friendly neighborhood Philadelphia 76ers.
There’s a honeymoon period where seemingly every shot goes in, social media erupts with a new generation of online admirers, and the actual players on the court just generally look happy to play alongside one another.
But there is just a little bit of stress that comes along with the advent of a new duo, too, namely minting a nickname that is both apt and evergreen. Mind you, a nickname isn’t crucial to on-court success. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving didn’t have a nickname, and neither did the most recent NBA-winning tandem of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, but in a league of “Sexland,” “LeBrow,” and the best nickname of the last decade at least, “The Splash Brothers,” securing an elite moniker is a premier challenge in and of itself, especially when the duo have fantastic individual nicknames of their own.
Fortunately, after tinkering with “EmBeard” for some time, Jim McCormick, a Special contributor to ESPN.com, came in with a wonderfully alliterative nickname for the Philadelphia 76ers’ dynamic duo of Joel Embiid and James Harden, and goodness gracious, it might be “the one.”
Bonus points for the Philadelphia 76ers’ hopefully new nickname.
Joel Embiid and James Harden draw more fouls than any other duo in the NBA. With both players ranking in the top-5 in average free throws attempted per game, fans can expect to see the Philadelphia 76ers’ two best players go to the line an average of 19.6 times per game, which, again, ranks first overall among any two players on the same team association-wide.
So naturally, if the Sixers’ new duo is going to earn a nickname based on their on-court abilities, a la the shooting of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, why not incorporate free throws into the nickname?
It makes sense, right? But what could it be? The “Charity Stripers?” “The Free Throwers?” “The And-1ers?”
How about “The Bonus Brothers?”
That’s… pretty darn good if you ask me. I mean, think about it, since Harden and Embiid officially teamed up, the Sixers have attempted 80 free throws, 34.6 more than their typical average over any given two games, and have routinely placed opposing teams in the bonus with three, four, or even five minutes left in a quarter. To their credit, the duo has only missed seven of their 59 combined attempts over the past two games and has helped to secure the team a pair of commanding wins over the Minnesota Timberwolves and the New York Knicks.
Does this style of play drive some crazy? You bet, Bill Simmons certainly isn’t a fan of a midseason Sixers glow-up, but hey, even if the games take four hours to come to hit the triple zeros, as long as it ends in a win, who really cares?
Joel Embiid and James Harden are very self-aware. They understand how they are perceived and have used that to their advantage in everything from Troli/Mtn. Dew commercials, off-court fashion choices, and the distinctive ways they use social media. They know they’re rapidly becoming the NBA’s biggest villains and will continue to draw disapproval from opposing fanbases for their on-court dominance and the frequency at which they draw fouls. If ever there was a cheeky nickname that embraces the “No one likes us, we don’t care” mentality, it’s the “Bonus Brothers,” and I, for one, will be using it in my coverage of the Philadelphia 76ers until a better and/or more official moniker comes around.