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Sixers' Tobias Harris delivers strong message about racism, police brutality in personal essay

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Sixers' Tobias Harris delivers strong message about racism, police brutality in personal essay

In an essay published Wednesday morning in The Players’ Tribune, Tobias Harris delivered a strong message about racism and police brutality in America while also providing insight into how his perceptions about race have been shaped. 

The piece is headlined, “Y’all Hear Us, But You Ain’t Listening.” Harris begins by framing the conversation about the death of 46-year-old black man George Floyd, who was killed last week in police custody when Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for over eight minutes. Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, while the three other officers on the scene were fired but haven’t been charged.

“But if we gon’ talk about what happened to George Floyd,” Harris writes, “there needs to be a baseline acknowledgement of the reality: A white police officer killed an unarmed black man, and he was able to do it in broad daylight, with three other cops watching, because of the color of his skin.

“And don’t reply to me with, ‘Oh, but this person did this.’ Don’t try and make excuses, or say this isn’t about race. In a lot of my conversations with white people lately, I’m getting that statement over and over again: ‘Let’s stop making this about race.’” 

Harris draws a sharp juxtaposition between President Donald Trump’s characterization of protestors against stay-at-home orders in place because of the coronavirus pandemic and Trump's language about protestors who have marched around the country in the aftermath of Floyd’s death. 

Last month, armed men took over the steps of Michigan’s capitol building. To protest the QUARANTINE.

And what did the President call them?

'Good people.'

But we go out and protest that another black life has been taken senselessly, and we’re 'THUGS.'

Come on.

This is why black Americans are angry.

Harris writes that “the killing of Trayvon Martin was a turning point for me.” 

“When he was killed, all because he looked ‘suspicious’ for wearing a black hoodie at night in his own neighborhood, I realized that that could have been my brother,” he writes. “Once you really sit with that, it’s a really scary feeling. I had to get out of my own NBA bubble, and understand that there’s a different world out there. Not everybody can get in a nice car every day, drive to work, come home, work out, and be O.K. People go through different s---. Every. Single. Day. I had to come to grips with that.”

He later reflects on the obligation he feels to speak on behalf of black people who don’t play in the NBA or have celebrity status and cites the late Muhammad Ali as an inspiration.

The way I look at it? If people in my community are oppressed, then so am I. Shout out to Muhammad Ali, one of the biggest role models in my life, for showing the way. He was never scared to take a stand against INJUSTICE.

"I’ve also had to get uncomfortable in knowing who I am — knowing that, yeah, I made it to the NBA, and that’s changed some things for me in terms of how I’m treated. I don’t have it the same as the next person. I’ve come to grips with the fact that yes, I’m black, but that dude that’s getting pulled over by a cop in his car, he don’t have the luxury of that officer recognizing him.

"That’s the problem. The difference between a cop recognizing you or not shouldn’t be life or death. 

Harris says he’s glad he protested on Saturday in Philadelphia after regretting a missed opportunity to march in Orlando in 2013, about a year after Martin’s death.

“On Saturday in Philly, it was about a togetherness of people pushing out a message. And that message was really about respect. It was about people respecting others, and understanding their hurt and their pain.”

Another interesting topic Harris covers is the deficiencies he sees in what kids are taught about black history, and his individual efforts to fill in knowledge gaps. He also covers his own work mentoring young people in the Philadelphia area and the disparities he’s observed “between a school in North Philly out here, and a school in the Main Line of Lower Merion.”

The entire piece is worth a read. 

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Sixers' Joel Embiid jokes he'll lose 50 pounds because of food at Disney World

Sixers' Joel Embiid jokes he'll lose 50 pounds because of food at Disney World

The Sixers departed on Thursday for life in the NBA’s quasi-bubble in Orlando.

They stepped on board their flight with a variety of styles. Joel Embiid’s all-white, hazmat suit look was by far the most unique. 

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The NBA’s health and safe protocols mandate that a player or staff member stays in their individual hotel room — the Sixers are at Disney’s Grand Floridian Hotel — while the result of the coronavirus test they took at arrival is returned. Another test then must be taken at least 24 hours after that initial test and also come back as negative for one to advance to Phase 4, which includes team activities such as practice. 

Not every player in Orlando has been a fan of the food during this quarantine period and photos like the one Nuggets guard Troy Daniels shared were not the most appetizing. 

This prompted The New York Times’ Marc Stein to report that “player meals won’t look like airline trays after the first 48 hours.”

As the Sixers transition to the next stage of this unprecedented process, Embiid showed his meal on Instagram with some characteristic humor. 

Yes, that last photo is really Embiid, at a Basketball without Borders camp in 2011.

Though Embiid said Tuesday he doesn’t believe in the NBA’s plan to resume play and laid out a number of concerns, he seems to be having as much fun as he can under the unusual circumstances. 

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Twitter drama with Joel Embiid and Kendrick Perkins involves liked and deleted tweets

Twitter drama with Joel Embiid and Kendrick Perkins involves liked and deleted tweets

Joel Embiid doesn’t tweet much nowadays.

He appeared to make a statement, though, via a recent tweet he liked.

ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins on Wednesday night criticized Embiid for noting he “hated” the NBA’s plan to restart the season at Disney World and still does not think it’s safe enough. Perkins’ reaction was devoid of empathy and did not address Embiid’s legitimate concerns, instead framing Embiid's comments as "just an excuse."

Embiid then liked a tweet showing “prime Kendrick Perkins,” which features air balled jumpers, ungainly charges and many other lowlights. 

Perkins later felt compelled to reply with a reel of more positive NBA moments for himself. 

A champion with the 2008 Celtics, Perkins averaged 5.4 points and 5.8 rebounds in 782 NBA games. A three-time All-Star, Embiid has career averages of 24.1 points and 11.5 rebounds. There's clearly a disparity. 

There was another layer to the mini-drama Thursday afternoon as Perkins reacted to Embiid wearing a hazmat suit before boarding the Sixers’ flight to Orlando.

Perkins tweeted the following in response to Embiid’s attire: 

However, according to a slew of Twitter users commenting on that post, Perkins initially sent and then deleted a harsher message that told Embiid he should have opted out.

While Perkins’ antics have been foolish, they shouldn’t overshadow Embiid’s legitimate concerns. Perkins does not seem to acknowledge that it's possible to weigh various factors before making a difficult decision, which is what Embiid has done by choosing to travel to Orlando despite being wary of playing during a pandemic, and in an area where cases have recently spiked. 

The Sixers’ first game at Disney World is scheduled for Aug. 1 against the Indiana Pacers (see schedule).

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