Shouts to Jerryd Bayless and Amir Johnson

Shouts to Jerryd Bayless and Amir Johnson

It's getting increasingly hard to calibrate the Philadelphia 76ers' Moral Win-Loss record. The way the Sixers got up 25-8 in the game's opening minutes, only to slowly let the lead bleed away and ultimately fall behind by eight in the third quarter was so infuriating I wondered if I'd leave the game fuming even if we came back to win. But come back to win the Sixers did — largely thanks to the brilliance of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, who combined (almost evenly) for a staggering 40 points, 25 rebounds, 15 assists, 5 steals and 3 blocks — and the fourth-quarter was impressive enough you still had to leave the 119-109 victory with at least a half-smile. 

But while our twin pillars were the primary reason the Sixers are currently sitting at .500 (with a record besides 0-0) for the first time since 2013, I wanna give credit to two of our much-maligned (by myself in particular) bench guys as well. As far south as things went in the middle of this one, they could've gone downright Key West if not for Amir Johnson and Jerryd Bayless. 

After a slow-in-all-ways start to the season for Amir, he's really starting to show his value now as a rebounder, as a pick-and-roll partner, even as a low-post finisher. One game after posting his first double-double as a Sixer, he managed 12 and 8 in just 17 minutes last night, crucial in helping the Sixers get back to sea level when they were floundering in the third. And Bayless, coming off the bench for the first time all season with J.J. Redick's return to the starting five, was huge with his 14 points, three dimes and no turnovers. Not only did he hit one of the biggest shots of the game — a triple to put the Sixers up seven with five to go, which got them breathing room they never gave back — but he also made a couple crucial defensive plays, blocking a fourth-quarter drive by Isaiah Taylor and forcing (and winning) a late jump ball against Luke Babbitt. 

I've been pretty hard on both of our pricey vets so far this season, because I've mostly found them exceedingly frustrating to watch — Bayless' decision-making has been largely woeful, and Johnson's low-post athleticism and finesse has left much to be desired. But Johnson appears to have steadied, averaging 10 and 8 on 67% shooting over his last three and looking at least mildly mobile on defense, and it's a lot easier to like Jerryd Bayless coming off the bench than it is to like him starting and playing 40 minutes (!!!) like he did in Houston on Wednesday. Maybe they're Sixers after all. 

And boy, did we need 'em in this one, since everyone else was Breaking Benjamin-cold midway through the game. The previously scorching Robert Covington was temporarily sidelined with knee troubles, J.J. Redick couldn't get one to drop, Dario Saric's inability to convert from any range was reaching comedic proportions, and even Joel Embiid was looking too sluggish to be relied upon. Without Johnson and Bayless, this one maybe slips away altogether, leading to our worst loss of the early season — rather than just one we're annoyed to have to pay attention to for all four quarters. 

So, 4-4 now, with a very reasonable chance to go over .500 at home on Friday against the Indiana Pacers. With Redick missing time, Markelle Fultz a sidelined mess and Dario going through Lonzo Ball-like shooting struggles, it's pretty remarkable that that things have evened out as quickly as they have. And with Embiid actually playing over 30 minutes against Atlanta last night — for the first time in the NBA — clearly anything is possible for Philly this season.

The Eagles won the Super Bowl! So how come I'm not happy?

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The Eagles won the Super Bowl! So how come I'm not happy?

It’s now been two weeks since the Eagles finally won their first Super Bowl. In that time, I’ve re-watched the game five times, re-watched the parade 15 times, and purchased six Super Bowl champions t-shirts, four sweatshirts and five hats. And that’s just from the next morning.

We won, like I’ve always wanted. We’re Super Bowl champs. It wasn’t a dream. I was led to believe that once the impossible happened and we reached the promised land, I'd have nothing more to worry about, ever again. 

So how come I’m still not happy?

I’ll tell you why: It’s because of Cris Collinsworth’s bias. And the unfair coverage of our celebrations; the national media won’t tell you this, but once the Super Bowl was over, not a single Eagles fan punched a horse.

There were the ridiculous crowd-size estimates. And Mike Francesa objecting to Jason Kelce’s language and calling for him to be cut. And the oddsmakers putting our Super Bowl odds below the Patriots’.  And Duracell, for that tweet about Philly fans throwing batteries. Disgraceful. From now on, I’m only throwing Energizers. I’ve also yet to hear an apology from Donovan McNabb, Andy Reid or Joe Banner for not winning us a Super Bowl before now.

At the parade, as we all remember, Jason Kelce sang “no one likes us, we don’t care!” But he was wrong. I care.

Maybe I’m not used to the feeling yet. Maybe it’s because I’ve been chasing this my whole life, and at this point, what else is there to chase? Maybe this sort of existential despair is what I’ve been fearing all along.

Nah, who am I kidding. It’s Cris Collinsworth.

Anyway, here’s my solution for the quarterback thing: Play Carson Wentz, AND Nick Foles. At the same time. Defenses won’t know what hit them, and besides, I’ve got a feeling if it comes down to it, Foles would make a hell of a wide receiver.

So don’t trade Foles. But DO trade Nate Sudfeld. I bet Cleveland would give up a 1 and a 4.

Other Philly sports takes:

- I’ll tell you what, Markelle Fultz caught a break. If not for the Eagles making a Super Bowl run and winning, he’d be all we had to talk about for the past month.

- The Michael Carter-Williams trade was three years ago this week, and let me tell you, I’m still mad about that.

- Jason Kelce appeared in Clearwater for the start of the Phillies’ spring training this week. I just wish he’d go through the entire Phils roster and list everyone’s faults and weaknesses.

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Mike Francesa admits to not really knowing what he was talking about with Kelce's speech

Mike Francesa admits to not really knowing what he was talking about with Kelce's speech

Mike Francesa probably wears flip flops in the city in the middle of winter.

The former radio host absolutely tore into Jason Kelce last week for his legendary speech on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Francesa even went so far as to say Jeff Lurie should cut Kelce for it.

Now, Francesa did a total 180 on it. 

Just to refresh, here's what he said last week:

“Should have stayed home, the jerk," Francesa begins on Kelce. "Why is that I have to be in my car when these guys win championships, and they decide that they are going to grace the audience with this profanity-laced stupidity. You gotta turn it off, your kids can’t even listen it. He sounded like a total moron. How about going up there and acting like a champion and not acting like a total moron? I turn that stuff off. I’ve seen LeBron James do that, now I’ve seen him do that. You know what? It’s not the time or place. You ever heard of winning like a champion? Somebody should have taken a hook and pulled him off.”

And here's what he had to say today as a guest on Angelo Cataldi's morning show on 94 WIP:

Bottom line is, I went back last night and watched the thing in its entirety, and I have to say, it was not as bad as I thought it was when I watched it and got to see it. I wish he hadn’t used any profanity because it would have been a classic, it was really well done, he did a great job. I thought it was one that would last and could be used a long time. I know it’s popular in Philly even with the profanity but to me those are such special moments that I wish they would raise their level. I’d like to see them do it so they can be used time and time again. Take the profanity out of it.

No. 1, I overreacted. I wouldn’t cut him. I take that back, I apologize to Kelce for that. No. 2, it was not as bad as I thought. I just wish he had raised his vocabulary a little. That was a great speech. He did a great job. 

"Should have stayed home, the jerk!" to "That was a great speech. He did a great job." Okay.

I guess the first step is admitting you have a problem.

You can listen to the full interview here.