76ers

Joel Embiid, Sixers managing partners team up to fund COVID-19 antibody testing of healthcare workers

Joel Embiid, Sixers managing partners team up to fund COVID-19 antibody testing of healthcare workers

Updated: 3:24 p.m. 

Joel Embiid, Sixers managing partner Josh Harris and co-managing partner David Blitzer are contributing a combined $1.3 million to Penn Medicine, establishing a funding campaign for COVID-19 antibody testing of frontline healthcare workers.

According to a Penn Medicine press release, “The pledge from Embiid, Harris and Blitzer will provide a much-needed boost for efforts to quickly identify health care workers who may have immunity to the new virus.”

Embiid had previously pledged to donate $500,000 to COVID-19 medical relief efforts. Harris and Blitzer have made several other charitable donations, including to Philabundance, Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania and the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia.

“During this pandemic, many doctors and nurses are working like soldiers on the front lines of a war and they need to be provided with as much armor as possible in this battle,” Embiid said in the release. “COVID-19 antibody testing can help Philadelphia health care workers at this critical time, and we need to do everything possible to help those heroes who are putting their lives at risk to help us.”

Per the release, this contribution will allow Penn Medicine researchers to scale testing immediately to 1,000 healthcare workers in the region.

"It's not as easy as simply writing the check," Embiid told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. "It's a process to figure out the best way you feel comfortable helping."

He told Sheburne that he’s been researching the best methods to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and had been in communication with Harris, Blitzer and general manager Elton Brand about ways in which he and the organization could help. He determined that antibody testing for healthcare workers was an important project, and Harris and Blitzer decided to partner with him.

If they have immunity, then they can work in risky environments with the peace of mind that they most likely won't get infected again or spread the virus," he said to Shelburne. "In addition, it may be possible for those with a lot of antibodies to donate blood and help other patients that are very ill.

"Also, if a patient is sick and a family member has antibodies, it may be possible to allow that person to enter the hospital to comfort their family member, which is important. Ultimately, antibody testing could be used to determine when people can go back to work ... possibly even in the case of professional athletes like me.

With further funding for the campaign, Penn Medicine hopes to expand testing to more healthcare workers, in addition to EMS officers, police officers, and others who are “on the front lines of the pandemic,” according to the release. 

“We are enormously grateful to Joel Embiid, Josh Harris, and David Blitzer for stepping up in a time of great need with forward-thinking philanthropy—helping us to understand COVID-19 through the lens of precision medicine,” University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann said. “We will take this new and powerful knowledge about how our bodies react to the virus and use it to protect our healthcare heroes, sharing these lessons with the City of Philadelphia and across the world.”

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2020 NBA return format: NBPA approves return to play format

2020 NBA return format: NBPA approves return to play format

A day after the NBA’s Board of Governor’s approved a 22-team return to play format, the NBPA did so Friday evening, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

All 28 player reps approved the plan, which would see 22 teams head to Walt Disney World in Florida to finish out the 2019-20 season beginning July 31. The league will play eight regular-season games with the possibility of a play-in tournament for the eighth seed. The playoffs will follow the traditional format.

One of the new pieces of information presented Friday is that there will also be two or three preseason games before the season resumes.

On TNT Thursday night, commissioner Adam Silver said the league is in the “first inning” in its quest to return to play. The NBA suspended the season on March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. 

According to Charania, players will undergo testing every day and there will be a minimum seven-day quarantine for any player that tests positive. If a player does contract the virus, play would continue.

“Of course we’ve always been looking for whether or not there is an appropriate and safe way that we can resume basketball,” Silver said, “and knowing that we’re going to be living with this virus for a while. … We’ve been exploring with the players whether there can be a new normal here.”

Another sticking point was a tentative date of Nov. 10 to start training camps for the 2020-21 season. Oct. 12 would be the last possible date for Game 7 of this year’s NBA Finals under this return-to-play plan. The NBPA told the players it’s “unlikely” the 2020-21 season would start on Dec. 1 and that it’s still being negotiated, per Charania.

With no fans in the stands, the two sides have also discussed pumping fan noise in courtesy of NBA2K.

The league and NBPA are still continuing to work out the health and safety details in the weeks leading up to a return.

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2020 NBA Draft profile: Jordan Nwora is a proven scorer, shooter

2020 NBA Draft profile: Jordan Nwora is a proven scorer, shooter

Jordan Nwora

Position: Forward
Height: 6-7
Weight: 225
School: Louisville

Six months ago, Jordan Nwora seemed like a lock to be selected in the first round of the 2020 NBA Draft. Nwora was the ACC Preseason Player of the Year, poised to lead Louisville to a big season and cement his status as one of the best players in all of college basketball.

By all accounts, he had a very good — if not great — junior season. Nwora averaged 18 points and just under eight rebounds per game for a Louisville team that finished with a 24-7 record. He was named First Team All-ACC and finished second in conference player of the year voting behind Duke’s Tre Jones.

Yet here we are looking ahead to the draft and Nwora is considered a fringe first-round pick who is more likely to be selected in the second round. 

So, what went wrong? There are a couple theories. One, Nwora struggled in a handful of marquee games last season. He scored just eight points on 2 of 10 shooting in a loss at Kentucky and was held to six points on 3 of 12 shooting at Duke a couple weeks later. To make matters worse, he scored a total of seven points in back-to-back losses to Georgia Tech and Clemson in mid-February.

There are also doubts as to whether Nwora showed enough improvement between his sophomore and junior seasons. Does he work hard enough? Is he committed to improving his game? These are questions that will follow Nwora as the draft approaches.

Strengths

Nwora is a proven scorer. He averaged 17 points as a sophomore and 18 points as a junior. He did so wearing a target on his back, particularly this past season. Opponents game planned to slow him down and he still put up big numbers against very good competition. 

He’s also a very efficient three-point shooter. Nwora shot better than 37 percent from long range during his sophomore year. He was even better last season, making 40 percent of his three-point attempts. His combination of size and shooting ability is very attractive to NBA talent evaluators.  

Weaknesses

Ball handling and defense top the list. Nwora should be an effective spot-up shooter in the NBA but his ability to create his own shot is questionable. His ball handling skills need significant improvement to be considered NBA-ready.

There are also legitimate concerns about his ability to defend on the pro level. Is he quick enough to guard smaller players on the perimeter? Is he strong enough to hold his own in the paint and on the boards? If Nwora ends up slipping to the second round, the defensive question marks will be the biggest reason why. 

Fit

Nwora could very well be selected early in the second round. The Sixers currently own the 34th and 36th picks and they need shooters. Nwora certainly fits that description. 
    
The Sixers could target him for his shooting ability and live with his shortcomings on the defensive end of the floor. Nwora to the Sixers isn’t a far-fetched scenario and definitely warrants serious consideration.  

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