The700Level

Joel Embiid is ruined forever

Joel Embiid is ruined forever

I said it a few weeks ago, during Joel Embiid’s run of awesome play, and nobody believed me: Joel Embiid is Linsanity all over again. An exciting run of success, led by a dynamic player, for a team that had been terrible for a long time. And after about two weeks, it was over forever. 

Who ruined Embiidsanity? It was the Sixers, who have showed so much contempt for the fans that I haven’t been able to enjoy any of their 21 wins. Bryan Colangelo’s arrogance is almost enough to make me miss the days when they were planning to lose forever under Sam Hinkie.

So how did it all go to hell? Here are my two conspiracy theories: 

1. Joel Embiid was never injured at all, and the Sixers are holding him out in order to secretly tank for a fourth year, and also avoiding paying him whatever bonus money he’d have made from the All-Star Game. Embiid proved it, by dancing at a concert this weekend at the team’s arena despite being too “injured” to play. In our arena! Our sacred arena! When Andrew Bynum went bowling, at least he didn’t do it in the middle of the Wells Fargo Center. 

2. Embiid is injured much more severely than the Sixers are admitting, even beyond the alleged “bone bruise” and “knee contusion.” But because this team is so soft, they won’t take off the bubble wrap and they're intent on defrauding the fans, we’ll never know. 

Which one’s true? Probably both. 

Embiid must play, again, right now, and Ben Simmons must, too, and I don’t care what any MRI, X-ray, or EKG says. If they’re in a little bit of pain, so what? There’s absolutely no scientific evidence that holding injured players out of games makes them healthier. 

Obviously, the Sixers just want us to pay them our money and shut up. But we won’t have it, not in this town. Whatever pain Embiid has in his knee or Simmons has in his foot pales in comparison to the pain of us as fans, having to sit through four years of this tanking charade. 

Other Philly sports takes: 

- Since he’s going to be traded at any moment, what was your favorite Jahlil Okafor moment in Philadelphia? Much as I enjoyed the fighting arrest, the fake ID arrest, the time he entered a game and forgot to take his shirt off and all the times his dad threatened people on Twitter, I’ll always appreciate that when he was arrested for doing over 100 on the Ben Franklin Bridge, he was going towards Philadelphia, as opposed to away from it. Take that as a lesson, Josh Huff.

- Anyway, I’m okay with any Okafor trade, as long as it’s not for draft picks. Enough with the damn draft picks. 

- The Charles Oakley Knicks story made me wonder: Why don’t retired athletes for Philadelphia teams ever show up at games and physically confront the owners? You just know Charles Barkley has been tempted to go after Josh Harris. What’s the point of the Phillies finally having a single owner if Lenny Dykstra or Mitch Williams can’t get into an irrational feud with him? And aren’t there 25 different players the Eagles pushed out in contract disputes who are eager to come to the Linc and take a shot at Jeffrey Lurie? 

- Speaking of Eagles who were pushed out the door too soon… No Terrell Owens or Brian Dawkins in the Hall of Fame? I blame Donovan McNabb for both. 

- I’m not sad Matt Ryan lost the Super Bowl. He may be from here, but why isn’t Ryan as vocal about his local heritage as, say, Mike Trout? Why don’t we ever see Ryan in the crowd at the Linc? Why doesn’t he ever vacation with Eagles players like Trout does? 

- Phillies spring training? When Mike Trout reports to Clearwater, I’ll be interested. Until then… 

- The Eagles released Leodis McKelvin. You may not have liked him here, but just wait until he’s a key contributor on next year’s championship Patriots team. 

- In order to shore up their receiving corps, the Eagles should sign Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Kenny Stills and Terrelle Pryor. All those guys, behind Paul Turner, should give Carson Wentz plenty of targets. 

Follow @FakeWIPCaller on Twitter. 

Brian Dawkins gives Eagles fans a pep talk on Twitter after Wentz injury

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Brian Dawkins gives Eagles fans a pep talk on Twitter after Wentz injury

Sunday was tough for football fans in the city of Philadelphia. Carson Wentz exited the game, walked off the field and into the locker room, and the mood was somber.

It didn't take long for reports to swirl that the Eagles feared the worst, that their MVP-caliber quarterback could be lost for the season.

The Birds went on to win the game but it was bittersweet without the prospect of Wentz leading them to the Super Bowl.

Star athletes from all of sports shared messages of support. From fellow star quarterbacks lost for the season like DeShaun Watson to brothers in the city who have dealt with injuries of their own like Joel Embiid, everybody hated to see Wentz go down.

You could feel the negativity oozing through the city.

Monday came and Doug Pederson confirmed what we already believed. Wentz was gone for the year and Nick Foles takes the job of leading the Birds to the promise land. Hope was dim but not extinguished.

Then Eagles Nation got the pep talk (tweeted) it needed from the one person who would never lie to them and only inspire them, Brian Dawkins.


Birdgang, Take Heart! Don’t bye into the neg emotions. @JordanHicks @DarrenSproles @ChrisMaragos Jason Peters & now @cj_wentz r leaders that continue 2 help us win by giving of themselves. WE will rally behind a confident #9 Do me a huge favor.. Rally & BELIEVE!!#FlyEaglesFly

I'm still bummed but Weapon X has me feeling a little better. The Eagles season isn't over just yet. It's time for Nick Foles to write a storybook ending.

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Respected writer applauds Ron Hextall, Dave Hakstol

Respected writer applauds Ron Hextall, Dave Hakstol

Remember those "Fire Hakstol" chants?

They were belted out by some fans at the Wells Fargo Center during the Flyers' ninth straight loss, a miserable 3-1 finish to the Sharks on Nov. 28.

What felt like the real low of this season so far forced general manager Ron Hextall to issue a state of the union address for his hockey club less than an hour after those chants were spouted into the air.

Including that moment, Hextall ever since has firmly defended and endorsed his head coach Dave Hakstol.

Hextall, a man of immense patience and a stay-the-course mentality, was not about to waver because of a group of disgruntled fans.

“If we were playing poorly, I’d be the first to say, ‘We’re playing poorly,’" Hextall said that night. "I would be. We are not playing poorly and to look objectively at our team right now and to say we’re playing poorly, no."

A day later, on NBC Sports Philadelphia's Philly Sports Talk, Hextall made himself especially clear regarding Hakstol's job security.

"He's the guy," Hextall said. "Dave Hakstol is our coach and he's going to remain our coach."

Maybe it wasn't what some fans wanted to hear, but Hextall didn't care.

And one well-respected writer, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, has been impressed with how both Hextall and Hakstol have responded. Here's what Friedman had to write Monday in his 31 Thoughts, a popular read among hockey people:

You’re always curious to learn how a new GM will react to a difficult situation, but I really liked the way both Ron Hextall (and Dave Hakstol) handled the “Fire Hakstol” chants and pressure in Philadelphia.

That organization has a historically short leash for coaches, but Hextall made it clear he wants to change that. He showed up in the dressing room to defend his coach, and, days later, passionately informed the media Hakstol wasn’t going anywhere. (The only thing missing from that burst was Hextall chopping down reporters with a goalie stick.)

Hakstol said he knows what he signed up for. The Flyers don’t admit it, but privately, word is they feel one year away from a true assessment of how good they are. Second, Hextall worked hard to convince Hakstol to leave North Dakota three summers ago, luring him to Pennsylvania with what is believed to be a six-year contract. He’s invested in his coach.

The Flyers fired Peter Laviolette three games into the 2013-14 season. They axed John Stevens 25 games into the 2009-10 campaign. And they got rid of Ken Hitchcock eight games into the 2006-07 slate.

There's definitely a history of short leashes, as Friedman mentioned.

But Hextall is not a guy that gets easily rattled by outside pressures. It probably makes him trust his evaluation and gut even more.

After the losing streak hit 10 games, the Flyers won three straight by sweeping their Western Canada road trip. Now they're back at the Wells Fargo Center for five games in a row, starting Tuesday.

A little more pressure at home sweet home.

h/t to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Tom Dougherty.