CAMDEN, N.J. — JJ Redick is the consummate veteran. For him, the Sixers’ journey to London is strictly about beating the Celtics. It’s “a business trip.”
Joel Embiid wants to win, too, but he wouldn’t mind having a little fun while he’s across the pond.
Embiid spent some time in London this summer, and he’s looking forward to returning.
“Last time I was there, I just fell in love with the city in general,” Embiid said Monday. “Just walking around, it was beautiful. Beautiful women … so, I had a great time. I’m just excited to be going there. Obviously want to get a win, and if I get a chance to catch a soccer game, I’m going to do that, too.”
The Sixers fly out from Philadelphia Monday night and play at London’s O2 Arena Thursday at 8 p.m. local time, 3 p.m. on the East Coast. In between, their itinerary will be full with NBA events as the league looks to promote the sport in Britain. According to coach Brett Brown, the team will stay on Philadelphia time to mitigate any possible jetlag when it returns.
Brown noted the trip is a good opportunity for players to spend quality time with their families, though the schedule will be packed.
“We’re going to walk that line of making it a family thing, a very collective, enjoyable trip, while still having the mindset that we’re going to beat the Boston Celtics. I feel like the itinerary is well-mapped out to allow us to do that.”
He said Dario Saric’s father, Predrag Saric, a former professional basketball player in Croatia, will get to watch his son play live for the Sixers for the first time.
Redick’s wife will be traveling with him, but he’s treating the game like any other. He’s been to London twice before, once during his freshman year at Duke, when the Blue Devils played several exhibition games against the London Towers, and after his junior year, when Redick and a friend watched a Premier League soccer game between Arsenal and Fulham.
He’s been abroad three times during his NBA career, twice on preseason trips to China and once during the preseason to Mexico City. He said this game will be very different from those preseason contests.
“This is a regular-season game. We’re not going over there to try to put on a show, and the Celtics aren’t going over there to try to put on a show and entertain the British crowd,” Redick said. “We’re going over there to try to play a great game. In that sense, it is a business trip. It’s more of a wins and losses thing for us.”
“There’s no free time. It’s going to be a business trip with the intent of trying to win a basketball game.”
Try telling that to Joel Embiid.