By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
— TBT (@thetournament) July 8, 2017
Many, many players have come and gone in the last half decade of Sixers basketball, but one who will always have a special place in fans’ hearts is Chukwudiebere Maduabum. Acquired from Oklahoma City as part of the JaVale McGee trade in February 2015, the man known best as Chu Chu never actually suited up for the Sixers. Still, due to some combination of his train-sounding nickname and his congenial nature both in person and on social media, Maduabum became a fan favorite during the Process era. Even after his rights were traded to Cleveland in July 2016, Sixers fans still look back fondly on the days of Chu Chu.
At the moment, Maduabum is playing for Kagoshima Rebnise of the Japanese Second Division; he’ll be heading back to Japan on August 1st. Meanwhile though, he’s participating in The Basketball Tournament, the $2 million, winner-take-all, single elimination tournament currently underway.
Saturday morning, Maduabum contributed 4 points and 4 rebounds in a 78-74 victory for his team, Paul Champions, over the Talladega Knights. Chu Chu, who I must add is an enormous man with deltoids the size of small boulders, was nice enough to speak with me for a couple minutes immediately after his team’s win.
You guys played in the Jamboree a couple weeks ago [Paul Champions won two games on June 17 & 18 to grab one of the final four spots in the main, 64-team field.] Do you feel that helped you to come together as a team?
Yeah, I mean, it helped everybody, pick up the tempo of the game. The kind of the players that come here, most of these teams have been playing together for a while. You can see with this team [Talladega Knights], they knew who to pass the ball to.
[Referencing Japan] What’s that like, you’ve played all over the world?
It’s fun. Some places more fun than the others. Japan would be probably the best.
Why is that the best for you?
Lifestyle. I love playing basketball, so that helps. And the money is good. Tax-free.
So you still get a lot of love from people in the Philly area. Is there any other fan base you feel that connection with still, like the Sixers?
Only Sixers. In Denver, I never got this much love from fans. I never even played a game, that’s what crazy. I never played summer league. I’ve never been in the Sixers training facility. But they still show me love. And I show love back.
You’re in Japan now, but how much do you still pay attention to what’s going in the NBA?
Mostly the playoffs. I watch highlights of games, teams I like and players I like. Because I like to see what rookies are nice, and all that. I saw Embiid.
So what are your feelings about the current Sixers roster?
They’re gonna be a problem. This year they’re gonna make the playoffs. I don’t know how far they’ll go, but I think they’re gonna make the playoffs. Unless something goes horribly wrong. As of now, I think they make the playoffs, maybe the semis, who really knows. Still have LeBron in the East though.
Got to ask everybody that comes through, do you Trust the Process?
I’m gonna come back and take a picture of my shirt. It’s a shirt that says, “What is Process may never die,” like Game of Thrones.