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Joel Embiid signs with Under Armour, and he has 'big things' planned

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Joel Embiid signs with Under Armour, and he has 'big things' planned

Updated: 7:54 p.m.

Joel Embiid has signed a five-year deal with Under Armour that will make him the highest-paid center in the NBA, according to ESPN's Nick DePaula. 

But according to Embiid, the deal is bigger than basketball.

That's the theme of a piece Embiid penned on the Under Armour website. In the piece, he remembers his improbable journey from a "skinny as hell" 16-year-old who had never played basketball to NBA All-Star.

And he writes about wanting to honor the memory of his late brother Arthur through his partnership with Under Armour.

Basketball has given me everything, but it has to be bigger than basketball. That was the first thing that I said to Under Armour, and they were behind it 100 percent. This isn’t about a shoe deal. I mean, listen ... I’m gonna make sure they design some shoes as pretty as I am. Don’t worry about that. We’re gonna take care of that.

But this is bigger than that. I want to use this partnership to do something real. I want to do something that would make my brother proud. 

Embiid recalls the pain and "daily struggles" he saw on his trip to South Africa this summer for the NBA Africa Games, and wanting to continue to give back to those kids who "got so much to give the world."

But Embiid says he wants to start in Philly.

"Ya’ll trusted The Process. Y’all have had my back," Embiid writes. "Now I’m gonna do my best to have your back. I’m going to be working on some big things with Under Armour. I got a few surprises coming for the Philly community, and for the rest of the world."

We'll have to wait to see exactly what Embiid has planned, but it sounds like he has some big ideas on his mind.

He gave a taste of what's to come Wednesday, appearing at a Boys & Girls Club in the city.

Embiid elaborated on his plans at the event.

"We got to sit down and talk about it," he told reporters. "But during the meetings and coversations we had, (the community aspect) was a big part. Me being from Africa, you kind of feel like you have to do it. My brother played a huge role in it, because the last three years of his life I wasn’t around because I was in the U.S.

"From what I heard, he was giving, especially to the people in the neighborhood that didn’t have a lot. He was always taking stuff from the house and going to give back. I kind of want to keep that going. I started with a foundation back home, which my parents are taking care of. With Under Armour’s help, I think we’re going to do great things.”

As far as the shoes themselves are concerned, Embiid will no doubt become a major face for Under Armour. It wouldn't be surprising to see an Embiid signature shoe soon enough.

"Signature shoes?" Embiid said on the Sixers' recent trip to China, per ESPN.com's Tim McMahon. "We might be able to make it happen at some point, and I'm excited about it. I'm excited."

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'It's a gift and a curse' — Steve Nash shares his thoughts on Ben Simmons

'It's a gift and a curse' — Steve Nash shares his thoughts on Ben Simmons

On the surface, Steve Nash and Ben Simmons don’t have a ton in common. 

Nash, inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018, shot 42.8 percent from three-point range and 90.4 percent from the foul line in his NBA career. Simmons’ shooting is not a strength.

However, the two chatted Saturday night at Madison Square Garden after Simmons’ 21-point, eight-assist performance in the Sixers’ win over the Knicks (see observations).

Simmons told reporters he talked with Nash, a co-owner of the MLS’ Vancouver Whitecaps FC, about soccer.

“He was such a great leader, a competitive spirit,” Simmons said. “Just watching highlights and some of his games, the way he played, he was just relentless. He played through anything." 

Nash sees a lot to admire in Simmons’ game, too. He said he thinks Simmons is worthy of being an All-Star for the second straight season.

Ben’s a generational talent. Crazy athlete, can play multiple positions on offense and defense. Obviously his glaring weakness is the shooting, but he’s so gifted that he can make up for it in other ways, and it’s about finding a way for him to be at his best for this group. And that’s a challenge for this club, is how do all the pieces fit together? Ben’s ability at both ends of the floor is unique and he’s a special, special player. 

“I wouldn’t put it past him to become a reliable shooter at some stage in his career, but he still does so many things at both ends of the floor that if you could find a way as an organization to promote that, you have an incredible, incredible piece. That is a huge challenge — how do all the pieces fit? … I think it’s something that Brett [Brown] and everyone are working through every day. It’s a gift and a curse.

Though his game isn’t much like Nash’s, Simmons said he can still take a lot from the 2004-05 NBA MVP. 

“He’s a legend, so definitely,” Simmons said. “I definitely want to talk to him and pick up things.”

Nash was asked whether Simmons can keep going as an infrequent jump shooter. 

“He can, in the right environment,” Nash said. “If he can figure out how to make some shots in some parts of the court, it can change everything. … He can do so many things. He can change positions four or five times in a game. That in itself is huge. So, how do you absorb that? That’s the challenge. Like I said, it’s a gift and a curse, and they’ll have to figure that out.”

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Tobias Harris trolls Ben Simmons before and after Sixers' win

Tobias Harris trolls Ben Simmons before and after Sixers' win

There are probably quite a few people that would like to be Ben Simmons.

Tobias Harris took that a step further before the Sixers game Saturday night against the Knicks, rocking Simmons' expensive looking neckwear.

The Sixers sweated out a win and snapped their six-game road losing streak at Madison Square Garden Saturday (see observations). Harris had a rough night, going 5 of 13 overall, but he did hit a huge three with 28.2 seconds left off a Simmons’ inbounds pass to give the Sixers a two-point lead.

“I was just trying to get it in,” Simmons told reporters postgame. “I don’t think we had any timeouts left, so I’m glad he came to the ball and put up a great shot. He made it look good.”

The chemistry between the two seems to be paying off on the court.

“He’s locked in,” Simmons said. “He’s been aggressive taking shots. We want him to keep shooting the ball and taking those open looks. He’s a great player."

Postgame, Harris went back into Simmons mode.

The team also had a little fun with Harris’ “Fresh Prince” impersonation.

Simmons had a big night, posting 20 points for the fourth straight game — the first time in his career he's done so. The duo of Harris and Simmons also combined for the biggest defensive play of the game, trapping Julius Randle and causing a turnover with 7.6 seconds left.

Even though Harris accidentally gave Simmons a smack in the face in his haste while celebrating.

The Sixers have won three games in a row and it looks like they’re having fun again.

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