A Man of His Word- Dario Saric Doesn’t Sugarcoat Anything.
It’s getting late on a Friday night. TJ McConnell, hair freshly styled with the only the finest gels, checks the time on his phone.
Suddenly, a burst of light and a buzz- a text message.
Now, Dario Saric is a man of his word. He promised the Philadelphia 76ers that he would come over to the NBA as soon as possible once drafted in 2014. The water muddied however as it became apparent that another season in the Euroleague would net a considerable pay raise for the 6’10’’ point forward. But Saric would go on to win the hearts of the Philadelphians who had waited patiently on bated breath for his arrival. He opted to honor his promise and come to Philly after 2 seasons overseas.
He blossomed as his minutes increased throughout the long NBA season, making a late push for Rookie of the Year despite eventually falling to Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon. Saric’s contract is almost sure to be a steal as his skill and tenacity continue to impress across the league. His effort and toughness have struck a chord with Philadelphians making “The Homie” as he’s been dubbed, a diehard fan favorite.
This summer the young Croatian sensation has generally impressed with his play over the summer in various European events.
This display however would come to a close this passed weekend as Croatia was eliminated in the round of 16 by Russia in Eurobasket 2017 (the continent’s premiere basketball exhibition). Dario struggled mightily, posting only 13 points, with a paltry 3 rebounds and only a single assist. There’s little doubt that Saric likely spazzed like a lunatic and paced his hotel room until the floor wore down to bedrock. Yet in a hotel room halfway across the world, another member of the Philadelphia basketball organization perhaps wished Saric was a bit less of a fucking hardo.
T.J. McConnell wouldn’t be where he is if he did not have a hardfast commitment to basketball. Though this could be said about almost any NBA player, McConnell’s stature, athleticism and likeness-to-NBA-players-from-1951 place him squarely in the category of “scrappy gym rat”. He has to work really hard, and people notice.
Despite his physical limitations, TJ’s intensity is never in question.
Despite early rumblings that the two struggled to get along, McConnell and Saric found common ground, and before our eyes a friendship emerged.
Night in and night out, we were gifted a hilarious back and forth between the two. And while things were known to get a little heated… Like live F-Bomb on television heated, the two characters played off one another tremendously. Gifting us with quotes like this one:
“Come on. You need to try to touch the TJ hair. After that, we can talk. Try to touch the TJ hair, it’s unbelievable. Is like plastic. So many gel.”
And of course as with all fiery personalities, sometimes a reminder that they play rough is well needed:
Dario’s commitment to hoops and his trust of the friendship however came to a head this past weekend. As Dario struggled in Croatia’s loss to Russia, his teammate was lost in the eyes of another. McConnell married his fiancée Valerie Giuliani in Pittsburgh. Nik Stauskas, also a member of the 76ers was a groomsman. Was Saric’s invite lost in the mail? Not exactly. His RSVP came in the form of a quote from a March 22nd article on The Ringer.
“Sometimes in the games, he got one opinion and I got another opinion,” said Saric. “And we just talk about it. But that’s brother love. I love him so much. He’s got his fiancée, he getting married this September. He called me and said, ‘Can you come? Can you come, please?’ But I have a national team [obligation] in that time. Probably, I will not come.”
That’s pretty brutal.
I’m not going to stray into the realm of psychoanalysis, so let’s call it a cultural dissonance. I’m sure he didn’t mean to spurn his boy like that. But like I said, if there’s one thing we can say about Dario Saric, it’s that he’s a man of his word.
Also that he probably deserved the rookie of the year award fuckmalolmbrogdon.
Keep your eye out for continued tomfoolery from these two, as they look to run Philly’s second unit together in the upcoming season.