The700Level

Return of Covington and Saric illustrates how much Butler has changed the Sixers

Return of Covington and Saric illustrates how much Butler has changed the Sixers

It feels odd that Jimmy Butler has been on the Sixers for more than a third of the season already.

At the same time, it weirdly feels like Robert Covington and Dario Saric haven’t been Sixers in forever — as if they’re simply memories from a bygone era.

Tuesday's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves is the team’s first matchup against those two beloved figures in Covington (who is out indefinitely with an ankle injury) and Saric since that franchise-altering trade. It’s startling how both fans’ and the media’s views of this team have shifted so wildly in a little over two months.

There was an innocence to the team’s 2018 end-of-the-year run and early playoff success. There’s nothing like the first time, the time they exceeded all expectations and delivered a sense of wonder and thrill that only existed in fans’ rambling fantasies previously.

Last year’s Sixers were playing with house money and kept hitting on red over and over again — 17 times in a row to be exact. There was an electricity in the Wells Fargo Center that I had never experienced in my young life as a Sixers fan. The spark and goodwill that last year’s crew brought the city has faded.

Look at where we are now.

Every Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid interaction is analyzed with an unmatched intensity. Butler is criticizing Brett Brown’s coaching in team meetings. Everyone in the tri-state area has a take on whether Simmons will ever develop a jump shot. There’s a growing urgency to figure out how to best incorporate Butler into the Sixers’ system ahead of of the monstrous five-year contract worth $190 million they may be handing him this summer.

What happened to the loveable core of last spring, as Simmons flew from coast-to-coast and found Covington and Saric for knockdown threes? What happened to simply enjoying any given basketball game without trying to decipher it’s long-term effects on the organization?

Trading for Butler was a necessary risk. There is still plenty of time for Butler to acclimate himself to the club, but there’s just a cloud over the franchise right now, as every decision and move is viewed with the increased scrutiny that comes as a trade-off for having Larry O’Brien Trophy-sized expectations.

Butler may have been an underdog in his lifelong journey and path to the NBA, but he forfeits the underdog label when he’s a four-time All-Star who’s been a two-way beast for the majority of his career. Sixers fans didn’t watch him blossom from a player Deadspin infamously wrote was signed just to lose games into a First Team All-Defensive Team stopper like Covington. Sixers fans didn’t watch Butler in the wee hours of the morning through shady Turkish cable TV packages online for two years like they did with Saric.

Butler certainly is “a dog,” as Stephen A. Smith affectionately said when Butler came to Philly, but I get the feeling that the fun-loving nature of last season’s squad was sent to the Twin Cities in return.

When Saric and Covington are shown on the jumbotron tonight, they will surely receive rousing applause from the Philly crowd, as fans remember the “good ol’ days” when winning felt so simple and freewheeling. The duo will stand in stark contrast to Butler, a player who is the living embodiment of how difficult and frustrating sacrifices can be when trying to ascend from merely good to truly great.

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Carson Wentz gets emotional while honoring Landon Solberg, who lost life to cancer

Carson Wentz gets emotional while honoring Landon Solberg, who lost life to cancer

Carson Wentz came to the podium on Wednesday afternoon wearing a T-shirt that read "Landon's Light" on it and went on to explain the significance of the shirt and the life that inspired it.

"For those that don't know Landon [Solberg], he actually threw out the first pitch at the [Carson Wentz] Charity Softball game. He lost his life to cancer yesterday. Trying not to get emotional, but a good kid like that who was able to go through our AO1 Foundation's program, we got to know him really well and his family. To see his fight and his faith through his fight, his faith in Jesus, really inspired me," Wentz said.

"My prayers have been with his family. I know Landon's up there celebrating with Jesus. So that's something we can celebrate."

Wentz also posted a video and moving message to his social media accounts:

We are so thankful to have known this special young man and will always cherish the memories we have been able to make with him. His confident hope, unwavering faith and unquenchable joy has pointed so many to Jesus. He is the true definition of a conqueror: in the darkest of moments, he kept his focus fixed on the light — JESUS.⁣

Our hearts ache for the Solberg family and all those who had the privilege of knowing Landon. Let us cling to the same HOPE Landon held so tightly to - the hope of Jesus!⁣

You can watch the video below.

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Tim Jernigan rocks Tim Jernigan jersey in Tim Jernigan rap video

Tim Jernigan rocks Tim Jernigan jersey in Tim Jernigan rap video

Back in April, Eagles defensive tackle Tim Jernigan began a rap career with Good Boyz Music and now he’s back with another track and video. 

In this one, entitled “Come Thru” Jernigan is wearing his No. 93 Eagles jersey for his verse, which he drops under the name Stud Muffin (h/t PhillyVoice). At one point, Jernigan is holding a black umbrella in one hand and a wad of cash in the other. 

OK then. 

Check it out, but be warned: There’s some NSFW lyrics in there. Jernigan’s verse starts around the 38-second mark. 

As PhillyVoice pointed out, Jernigan does drop a David Akers lyric in the song — “like my name David Akers or I play rugby.” That seems to be a reference to the previous line when Jernigan mentioned kicking and punting. 

While Jernigan rocked his own jersey in the latest video, back in April, in “Hustle Harder” Jernigan was wearing an old-school Grant Hill Pistons jersey. Here’s that track: 

Believe it or not, his budding rap career wasn’t one of the topics of conversation when a few reporters caught up with Jernigan back in May.

Jernigan signed a one-year, $1.25 million deal to return to Philadelphia this past offseason. That came after what has been a wild couple years for Jernigan in Philadelphia. He was traded here, became a big part of the defense, signed a huge contract, suffered a mysterious injury and then the Eagles declined his option this offseason before he returned at an extremely discounted rate. 

The Eagles this offseason also brought in Malik Jackson, who will likely take over as the starting defensive tackle next to Fletcher Cox. That, of course, was Jernigan’s old position. 

“I don’t care,” Jernigan said in May. “I believe in me. I believe in Timmy. Straight up. I believe in Timmy. I hope nobody take that the wrong way.”

He even believes enough in Timmy to wear his jersey in his rap video. 

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