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Joel Embiid Is Carving a Path Into the Heart of Philadelphia


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But even when the Sixers don’t advance, Embiid’s play has earned him a deep well of affection inside his city. The Sixers were shrouded in drama this season in consequence of the trade demand from Ben Simmons, who was speculated to help Embiid within the championship quest but never took the court before he was traded to the Nets for Harden in February. As a substitute of letting the season get derailed, Embiid mostly stayed quiet about Simmons and kept his concentrate on the court, where he averaged 30.6 points, 11.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.

Philadelphia has long been often known as a difficult city by which to earn longstanding affection from fans. Only a number of athletes have been in a position to attain that — and infrequently not without significant bumps along the best way: players like Julius Erving and Charles Barkley, and in other sports, the Eagles’ Brian Dawkins.

Other stars (ahem: Simmons) are sometimes run out of town.

“An enormous a part of my job is recruiting free agents directly and even not directly in trade,” said Daryl Morey, the Sixers’ president of basketball operations. “And I feel there’s a respect of the Philadelphia fan base that the players have that they’re like, ‘Will they accept me or not?’

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“Because in the event that they don’t accept you, it gets ugly fast for everyone.”

Marc Zumoff, who was the Sixers’ play-by-play broadcaster for nearly three many years before retiring last yr, said in an email that, “Philadelphia fans prefer to know they’re a part of the method.

“Whether or not they’re cheering, booing, or chanting in unison, they wish to elicit reactions from the players, coaches, officials or whoever is their goal,” he said. “In Joel’s case, his expressions, gyrations or especially when he holds his arms out in exaltation, he feeds the frenzy.”

He added, “Sometimes he reacts to the fans; other times, they react to him.”

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