76ers

Jazz and Pelicans players and coaches kneel in protest during national anthem before NBA season resumes

Jazz and Pelicans players and coaches kneel in protest during national anthem before NBA season resumes

Before games kicked off again after a hiatus of nearly five months, members of the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans made a statement Thursday night. 

Players, coaches and referees took a knee during the national anthem before the NBA’s resumption, with many wearing Black Lives Matter shirts. Former Sixers Jahlil Okafor, JJ Redick and Jrue Holiday are on the Pelicans. Holiday and his wife Lauren are using the 30-year-old’s remaining game checks to launch a social justice fund.

The league is aiming to focus on racial injustice as it restarts play during the coronavirus pandemic. Some players, including six Sixers, have chosen to wear jerseys with pre-approved social justice messages. Many, including Tobias Harris and Mike Scott, have used their time with the media to draw attention to the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency room technician, and call on Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron to arrest officers Myles Cosgrove, Brett Hankison and Jon Mattingly. 

The Sixers and Brett Brown, who’s part of an 11-member coaches committee headed by current Hawks head coach and former Sixers assistant Lloyd Pierce that’s dedicated to addressing racism and police brutality, have been talking often about these issues. 

“This whole racial injustice discussion and incredibly powerful, real, sad examples that lead us to this topic … we talk about all the time,” Brown said Thursday. “… There are things internally that we’ll talk about that will remain private until we feel we have a solid plan to share with the marketplace. We’ve been exploring our role, what we can do to make a difference and impact, especially as it relates to the city of Philadelphia.”

Rapper Meek Mill, a Philadelphia native who memorably rang the Sixers’ ceremonial Liberty Bell before Game 5 of the team’s 2018 first-round series vs. the Heat after being released from prison, was featured in a TNT segment shortly before the national anthem. He talked about the Black Lives Matter movement, activism and his admiration for Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant. 

The Sixers’ season is set to resume Saturday night at 7 p.m. against the Pacers. Players have made it clear they don’t want the excitement about meaningful games returning to distract from the world outside of sports. 

“I know there are probably plenty of guys who were thinking about not even coming to this bubble because of everything that’s happening right now, me included,” Josh Richardson said Thursday. “We’re here, we love basketball, we’re trying to win a championship, but at the same time, there’s a bigger thing going on that we’re all honestly here for.” 

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Sixers injury update: Joel Embiid (left ankle) out against Suns; Ben Simmons has surgery

Sixers injury update: Joel Embiid (left ankle) out against Suns; Ben Simmons has surgery

The Sixers’ injury update on Monday was a long one. 

Joel Embiid is out for Tuesday’s game against the Suns with the left ankle injury he sustained in the first quarter Sunday vs. the Blazers. He’ll be undergoing treatment and evaluation at the team’s practice Monday night.

Brett Brown wasn’t sure if Embiid would play Wednesday vs. the Raptors, but he expects the three-time All-Star to appear again before the postseason and indicated he doesn't view the injury as serious. The Sixers’ last seeding contest has been officially assigned for Friday at 9 p.m. against the Rockets. 

“I do expect him to,” Brown said. “That’s just one man’s opinion. Nobody’s doing cartwheels over, ‘It’s something severe,’ one. Two, I do believe it would be good for him to play before the playoffs begin.”

Josh Richardson, who scored 34 points against Portland, will rest Tuesday. Tobias Harris is questionable with right ankle soreness and Al Horford is questionable with left knee soreness. Harris hasn’t missed a game this season, while Horford said in July, “I probably wasn’t where I wanted to be” physically earlier in the season but felt “in a much better place” after being able to rest during the NBA’s hiatus. 

The length of the injury report is not surprising after Brown on Sunday seemed receptive when asked about possibly restricting minutes for key players in the team’s final three seeding games.

“I think it’s true ... where you want an honest sort of medical assessment of anything that equals a potential problem — you just want to avoid (it),” he said. “And landing the plane and entering the playoffs from this vision line of a bubble and time off and tiptoeing on pins and needles where you don’t want people to get injured, and then still find a rhythm, that’s a slippery slope. 

“You mentioned Jo. I think the question extends to people like Al Horford, as an example. Making sure Tobias is in a place where we can manage his minutes going forward and still find that balance of trying to compete and find a rhythm.”

Ben Simmons was the other player on Monday’s report. 

The 24-year-old had successful surgery to remove a loose body in his left knee, the team said, performed by Dr. Chris Dodson from Rothman Orthopaedic Institute. He’ll begin rehabilitation in Philadelphia immediately and will have a post-operative evaluation in approximately two weeks. 

Mike Scott, who missed the Sixers’ first three seeding games with right knee soreness, said he’s feeling well now. He saw time as a small-ball center against the Trail Blazers, scoring nine points and grabbing four rebounds, and will likely assume a key role on Tuesday.

“Just a little swelling,” he said of his knee. “Had to get it drained, so it was kind of holding me down a little bit, but it feels better now. Got it drained, so feeling a lot better.”

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Sixers Talk podcast: A lot more questions than answers right now

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Sixers Talk podcast: A lot more questions than answers right now

On this edition of the Sixers Talk podcast, we discuss the health of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, whether the All-Star duo should stay together and much more.

(0:32) — Embiid suffers an injury and Lillard drops 51.
(9:16) — Don't expect a deep playoff run.
(14:30) — More pressure on Shake Milton or Josh Richardson going forward?
(21:41) — Will Brett Brown get a pass if the Sixers don't succeed?
(34:39) — Here we go with the trading Embiid or Simmons talk again.

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