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Sixers give Joel Embiid max contract, rest of team shows us why they had to

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Sixers give Joel Embiid max contract, rest of team shows us why they had to

My only regret is that the Sixers have but one max contract to give for our JoJo. 

In case you missed it, the Colangelos dropped a spicy Woj Bomb on the NBA world last night in the form of a five-year, $148 million contract extension for one Joel Hans Embiid, ensuring that The Process will stay in Philly for the foreseeable future. I'll save you the math: That's ~$4,774,194 per contest for JoJo over his 31-game NBA career to date. It's also about $50 million more than we have in all other player salary on the books after this season combined. 

And that's fine. Totally. I couldn't say with confidence that Joel Embiid will ever play a mostly-healthy season for the Philadelphia 76ers — hell, I can't even say with complete assuredness that Joel Embiid will ever play a mostly-healthy game for the Philadelphia 76ers again — but that doesn't really affect my opinion of this contract. If anything, it just makes me grateful that the powers that be realized that we still had to ink it ASAP. 

Is there risk to go with the contract? Of course, but the risk is not with the money, it's with Joel. The money doesn't matter: There's no amount of money we could legally give Embiid that wouldn't be worth what he'd be worth to this team if he averaged even 50 games a year over the length of the contract. And yes, even 50 a year might be optimistic for a guy who's played 31 games in three seasons; also ultimately unimportant. The Sixers seem to think Joel will play basketball again at some point in the not-distant future. That's enough for me — back up the Brink'siest of Brink's trucks.  

The Sixers had no choice here. Or, they had a choice, but one of the two options wasn't one many teams would consider: Joel Embiid or irrelevance. Put simply, Embiid is the difference between this team mattering or not for the next half-decade: They need him, and if they lost him, they would almost certainly have zero avenues to properly replace him. Would it have been nice if JoJo had shaved a couple million off his AAV just to do the Colangelim a solid? Sure, but he was under zero obligation to — in case you forgot, they didn't draft Embiid, and the guy who did is long gone now — and you could argue that Joel's already practically earned nine digits in public goodwill with his delightful antics off the court the past few seasons alone, keeping the fanbase engaged during the darkest win-loss period in franchise history. He wants $148 mil? 10s and 20s OK? 

Maybe after four years of Hard Process Living you've convinced yourself that the Sixers have enough stuff already that they don't have to be so beholden to Embiid — that between Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric, our draft picks in reserve and our other blue-chip young'ns, we could still be one of the league's most fun, most exciting teams even sans Joel. Well, you must've missed last night's preseason game in Boston, then, where our crappy defense and stagnant offense led to us getting creamed by a C's squad missing four of five starters, with Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz both showing occasional flashes but failing to get the team into any kind of flow. Neither dude has shown much this preseason to suggest that they'll be able to contribute to winning (or even consistently competitive) basketball right away, and they both have glaring holes in their game that'll take a whole lotta precious time to correct. 

And next to Embiid, that's all cool. Joel makes everything easier for everyone, and with his instantaneous brilliance in place to anchor the roster and cover up teammate flaws, Simmons and Fultz can both grow slowly as needed around him, without either's development becoming the team's dominant story. But if he's not around, they've got to lead pretty much right away, and that's very bad for this season — like, 25 wins if we're lucky bad — and not great long term, where it's hard to imagine these Sixers growing into more than a 40-45-win squad, even by 2023. 

I've beat this drum for so long and so hard that I've had to buy multiple replacement skins, but continue to Neil Peart about it I shall: Embiid is all that really matters, and without him this team is lost. Even if JoJo gets attacked by a sentient lawn mower tomorrow and has his foot irreparably mangled — knock on wood — I would still have no regrets about this contract, because our only path to true success the next half-decade would've involved extending The Process anyway. Without him, this team is basically screwed, and all the cap space in the world isn't likely to change that. (And in any event, there's said to be some worst-case-scenario protections on the deal that will aid our cap if JoJo misses significant injury time — cool, though if we need to spend significant time talking about those particulars the next few years, the depression might not be worth the savings.)

And what's more, I'm good with the contract because I'm fine riding with Joel until the end of the line regardless. Due to all we've already been through together before achieving any kind of real success, the Sixers fanbase has a connection with Embiid unlike any in fan-player history, and it's a relationship that he's always seemed to care about nurturing and earning, even when things were at their personally or professionally direst. If there's even a 20% chance that we'll one day get to root for JoJo at a postseason game at the WFC, that's a chance we need to take, because it would cause a home excitement that the NBA world has never quite seen before. Sports relationships like this are truly once in a lifetime, and not to be trifled with. 

So yeah. Let the rest of the sports world cackle about the sagacity of giving a dude who's never even played half a healthy season (and hasn't proven he's in shape to do this year) enough money to buy a couple private islands — they're not wrong to do so, but they're also definitely not right. They don't understand that there's no risk greater in locking JoJo up at any price tag than anything that leaves the door open for him to be donning another uniform before 2023. They don't understand that without him, the next five years are a wash for Philly fans no matter what else happens. They don't understand that Joel Embiid is The Process, and The Process is Joel Embiid, and that without him Our Once and Always Dark Lord Sam Hinkie basically died for nothing

Joel Embiid belongs among the very best

Joel Embiid belongs among the very best

You can't really fake it at an All-Star Game, especially one where people are actually trying. There's no lucking your way into a couple open shots and a couple generous foul calls and all of a sudden rolling your way to a 30-plus-point game; there's no isolating one defensive mismatch and exploiting it to make yourself look like '01 Shaq. Generally speaking, an All-Star Game shakes out as it should: The best shine the brightest, and those who aren't ready yet fade into the periphery with extra motivation to step things up for next year. 

And that's why it's so awesome that Joel Embiid, a mere 75 games into his NBA career, unquestionably belonged on the biggest stage with the biggest names last night. Playing for Stephen Curry's squad, JoJo posted 19 points on 8-13 shooting, with eight rebounds and two blocks, and a +5 rating for the night — the only positive plus/minus for the Steph starters. 

Out of context, those numbers may not sound particularly impressive for an All-Star outing, considering the final score of 2017's game was 192-182. But thanks to increased financial and personal motivation in this year's game, the competition was ratcheted up, and though the final score was still a robust 148-145 — Team LeBron emerging victorious — no one player really went off in this one, with Team Stephen being led in scoring by DeMar DeRozan and Damian Lillard (21 each). Consider that JoJo's 19 outpaced both teammates James Harden (12 points on 5-19 FG) and Curry himself (13 on 4-14 FG) — only two of the greatest scorers in NBA history. 

And what's more, down the stretch it was Embiid who seemed most ready to rise to the moment. With minutes remaining and his team up one, Embiid posted up LeBron James — LeBron James!! — for an easy bucket, and with the score tied and under a minute left, he got stuck isolated on the perimeter against Paul George, and still ended up blocking George's shot to win the possession back for his team. Had his squad been able to hang on in this one, he would've been able to mount a fairly compelling case for MVP, which would've made him the first player since at least the 20th century to win top honors in his first All-Star appearance. 

Of course, it didn't happen that way, and Team Stephen coach Mike D'Antoni might get most of the blame as to why. With his squad up one and Team LeBron inbounding out of a timeout, D'Antoni opted for some incomprehensible reason to bench Embiid, his best defensive player — which, somewhat unsurprisingly, resulted in LeBron scoring quickly and easily at the basket to go up one, and then DeMar DeRozan throwing the ball away at the other end. Embiid entered for the final possession, with his team needing a three to tie, and he had a chance to hoist one, but understandably passed to Curry, who drove his way into traffic and ended up not even getting a shot off. Team LeBron won, and James took home his third MVP. 

Frustrating finish, but it can't ruin what came before: Joel Embiid squaring off against the best the NBA has to offer, and proving himself a factor. (Also nailed a three and then blocked a Russell Westbrook drive at the other end, btw, so that beautiful random feud lives on.) He got as good as he gave — LeBron drilled a triple in his face immediately after JoJo took him down low — but he was in the mix, and a crucial part of his team's successes and failures. It should be the first of many such All-Star starring roles for Embiid, and hopefully the last for some time that doesn't also include him being flanked by Process Truster in Arms Ben Simmons. 

But even if it isn't — even if nothing good ever happens again with Joel, and we look back at this All-Star Game 25 years from now as the high point of this career — it still would have all been worth it. It was worth it when the team went 10-5 two Januarys ago. It was maybe worth it when Embiid gave his first-ever post-game interview following a Sixers win. 

That's what people will never understand about The Process, and that's what makes nights like this so gratifying. Franchises go decades, entire generations, without getting a moment to feel this way about one of their players, and even getting the chance to feel it about one of ours is worth seasons of sacrifice. JoJo lives, and somewhere in the bowels of the Staples Center last night, Our Once and Always Dark Lord Sam Hinkie had to be there and be smiling. Hope he enjoyed the Fergie national anthem as much as I did, as well. 

JJ Redick responds to video in which he allegedly used racial slur

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SB Nation/Twitter

JJ Redick responds to video in which he allegedly used racial slur

Updated at 12:50 a.m.

Early Sunday, a video surfaced on social media that appeared to put Sixers’ guard JJ Redick in an extremely poor light. Redick has since responded to clear up the situation.

Here’s what happened:

At about 8 a.m., a post appeared on Reddit showing a screenshot and caption alleging that Redick said a racial slur during a video from NBA players wishing Chinese fans a Happy New Year. The video caused a huge uproar on social media. If you wish to see the video, it is located here, at the top.

On the surface, without a response, it looked odd from the start. Redick, who we have come to know as a well-spoken individual who is typically very appreciative of basketball fans, isn’t someone you’d expect this from, let alone with a camera pointing directly at his face with an NBA microphone in front of his lips.

He offered this response on his official Twitter account, saying he was tongue-tied and had no intentions of saying what he did on the video.

Fans reacted on both sides of the issue, some still asking for an apology and others taking Redick for his word. 

On Sunday night, Redick followed up with a longer statement on his Twitter and Instagram, where he further explained himself and indeed issued an apology.

Please read. Thank you.

A post shared by JJ Redick (@jjredick) on

Early Monday, Brooklyn Nets guard Jeremy Lin tweeted a statement saying that he spoke with Redick and believes the Sixers' guard didn't say a racial slur.

With the All-Star Break going on, Redick won’t be available for a few more days for the media to ask him about this. There’s a chance this story will continue into next week.