Joel Embiid shows off his skills in NBA Africa Game

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Joel Embiid shows off his skills in NBA Africa Game

It’s only August, but Joel Embiid’s celebrations are in midseason form. His handles don’t look too bad either.

Embiid, a Cameroon native, starred in the NBA Africa Game Saturday in Pretoria, South Africa, posting a game-high 24 points on 9 for 18 shooting to go with eight rebounds and four assists. Team Africa fell to Team World in the third edition of the NBA Africa Game, 96-92.

Embiid spent the past week taking part in various community outreach events honoring Nelson Mandela’s legacy. He also showed the campers in the Basketball Without Borders program a few of his dance moves and threw down a fierce dunk on the Hornets’ Bismack Biyombo (see story)

In 2011, Embiid himself participated in the Basketball without Borders program. That’s the year he began playing basketball. He looked a little different. 

“I feel [it’s] a way for me to kind of give back, and show them how it’s done,” Embiid said, per Sixers.com’s Brian Seltzer. “At the same time, it’s also a way for me to grow the game of basketball in Africa. I feel like we have a lot of talent, undiscovered talent, that can have a chance just like I did. They just need an opportunity.”

There were plenty of highlights on Saturday for Embiid, who was the last player introduced and sounded like he got the loudest cheers from the crowd. 

When Hassan Whiteside checked in, it felt just like the playoffs all over again, with Embiid drawing two quick fouls on the Miami Heat center and going coast-to-coast for a layup after picking off a pass intended for Whiteside. 

Embiid connected with former Sixer Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot late in the first quarter, finding Luwawu-Cabarrot for an open three-pointer. Luwawu-Cabarrot, now a member of the Thunder after the Sixers’ mid-July trade, scored 16 points, second-most on Team Africa.

Embiid’s smooth behind-the-back move and step-back jumper on JaVale McGee in the third quarter was a crowd-pleaser. 

And he added a few of his patented and-one celebrations. 

At the end of the game, Embiid went back and forth with the Clippers’ Danilo Gallinari, another Basketball without Borders alumnus. Embiid kept Team Africa close throughout the game, but Gallinari sealed the win for Team World, nailing a number of tough step-back jumpers. He earned MVP honors with 23 points on 9 for 10 shooting.

You don’t want to read too much into how Embiid played, given the All-Star Game-like setting. After all, he often brought the ball up the floor, playing a point-center role, and the game wasn’t played with much intensity until the final few minutes when the outcome was in the balance. But Embiid’s performance was a reminder of his immense talent. His MVP ambitions don’t sound so crazy when you watch him gliding down the floor, finishing with authority inside, and crossing up defenders.

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Sixers broadcaster Marc Zumoff calls a day in the life of guy stuck at home

Sixers broadcaster Marc Zumoff calls a day in the life of guy stuck at home

The city of Philadelphia absolutely wishes we were currently watching the Sixers right now in the middle of a championship run.

Alas, live games are on hold for the time being, so there's a Marc Zumoff-sized void in our lives.

But given all of the extra free time broadcasters and media personalities have lately, Marc Farzetta was able to create the dream of longtime Sixers play-by-play man Zumoff calling his daily life at home.

"Farzetta rises from his slumber!" Zumoff begins as Farzetta gets out of bed. "Farzetta scoops, packs, and sips. Yes!" Zoo continues as Farzy makes his daily espresso.

Not only is Zoo doing the play-by-play, but he passed it over to his broadcast partners Alaa Abdelnaby and Serena Winters for the assist at one point.

The execution is as crisp as a Ben Simmons alley-oop to Joel Embiid. Hopefully we'll get plenty more Zoo, Alaa and Serena in our lives sometime soon.

Jerry Stackhouse tries to set record straight on scrimmages with 17-year-old Kobe Bryant

Jerry Stackhouse tries to set record straight on scrimmages with 17-year-old Kobe Bryant

At 17 years old, Kobe Bryant was scrimmaging against professional athletes and Philadelphia college stars, about to embark on a 20-year NBA career.

He impressed in those scrimmages with his skill and bravado. But, according to Jerry Stackhouse, Bryant wasn’t big on passing. 

Stackhouse, now the head coach at Vanderbilt, spent the first two-plus years of his career with the Sixers before being traded to the Pistons and matched up with Bryant in those scrimmages.

What happened with Kobe was nobody really wanted to play with Kobe,” he said on The Woj Pod. “[Former La Salle star and NBA player] Lionel Simmons, you used to always see him pulling Kobe to the side, like, ‘Man, you gotta pass the ball! You gotta learn how to do this!' Because the older guys were from Philly. … These stories kind of take on a life of their own. And yes, Kobe had some good days scoring the ball, because he could handle it so well. But he had tunnel vision at that point. You had pickup games, sometimes he didn’t even get picked up. 

“But again, because he’s so been great since this, these stories go back of ‘Oh, he beat Stackhouse one-on-one.’ Come on, man. Me at 20 years old, can you imagine a 17-year-old beating me consistently? I’d have hurt him first, real talk. Just physically, that could never happen to me. Did we play one-on-one? Yes. Did he beat me, did he maybe win a game? Yes. Did he consistently beat Jerry Stackhouse at 20 years old when he was 17? Hell no. I’m putting an end to that story. … Was he super talented and everyone saw great potential in him? Yes, but those scenarios … of Kobe Bryant, they’re a little bit of a different story when you go talk to people that were actually in the gym. 

Stackhouse noted that it took a little time for Bryant to adjust to the NBA game, which is true. The Lower Merion High School graduate played only 15.5 minutes per game as a rookie. Of course, he went on to make 18 All-Star Games, win five NBA championships and become one of the best players of his era. 

Though Stackhouse wanted to set the record straight on those one-on-one games with Bryant, he was still amazed by his ability at such a young age.

“This kid was unbelievable,” he said. “Just his ball handling ability … he grew up, obviously, emulating Michael Jordan.”

However, the members of the Philadelphia basketball community who were in the gym for those scrimmages were apparently ruthless in their critiques.

“I vividly remember the old heads from Philadelphia,” Stackhouse said, “[they're] like, ‘Come on, man, you gotta pass the ball! That ain’t how you gotta play!’” 

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