Players You Hate... Until They Come to Philly

Players You Hate... Until They Come to Philly

For the time being at least, it looks like the Eagles are going to wait on evaluating tight end Jeremy Shockey for a shot at their backup tight end spot. That might have something to do with Visanthe Shiancoe's workout at Lehigh today, which was said to go very well. Or, maybe the front office simply isn't in any hurry to bring a polarizing figure into their locker room.

Whatever the case, the club's interest in Shockey caused quite a reaction among a certain segment of fans -- no! Please, no. Anybody but him. As one of our regular commentators, scurvy5, pointed out, the former New York Giant and notorious big mouth would rank high on a list of players "you-absolutely-despise-right-up-to-the-moment-they're-on-your-team," mentioning Lenny Dykstra and Jaromir Jagr in the same breath.

Which got us to thinking: who are some professional athletes Philly fans can't stand, but you would love to see wearing one of the local teams' uniforms?

And we're not just talking about the obvious choices either. Obviously everybody would love it if say the 76ers went out and nabbed LeBron James or Kobe Bryant. Basketball fans usually either love or hate LeBron, but it's not personal in Philly. The latter can't be said for Kobe, but if people thought he would bring a championship back home, he would be a hero forever.

It's probably more interesting to skip the stars that transcend their respective sports -- not to mention who have no chance of ever coming here -- and stick to guys who might one day be available and have a shot at actually winding up here. In particular, athletes who have a history of breaking out hearts might be even harder to accept, such as San Francisco Giants closer and owner of the goofiest beard in sports, Brian Wilson.

Perhaps an even more thought-provoking question is which players do you despise so much, you couldn't even root for them if they were suddenly traded to your team?

While most people would probably be sensible about it, Sidney Crosby seems like he could be one of those guys. People respect his talent, but don't necessarily care for the way he conducts himself on the ice. Maybe I'm wrong about him, and if he was hoisting the Stanley Cup while wearing Orange and Black it probably wouldn't concern anybody at all, but there is severe disdain for Crosby across the NHL.

One such athlete is wearing a local team's uniform already. Michael Vick is simultaneously one of the post popular athletes in the country, arguably of all time, but his past also sickens many people. There are undoubtedly long-time fans who turned on the Eagles for good once he joined the roster, and I doubt seeing him lead a parade down Broad Street would change their minds.

Give it some thought, or say the first name that pops into your mind. Take the discussion in whatever direction you like. Who will you hate right up until the first moment he makes you jump out of your seat at the game?

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers lost Jahlil Okafor for the final 23 games last season because of a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Now they are being cautious as he prepares for his second year.

As part of the Sixers’ prescheduled load management for Okafor, he participated in a portion of practice and then worked out individually with head strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright.

“They just told me to relax once I did what they wanted me to do today,” Okafor said. “I was off to the sidelines. I feel fine. I’ll be good tomorrow.”

Okafor learned during his first NBA season that he should speak more openly with the staff about his body.

“Communication is key,” he said. “I think last year I didn’t really communicate how I was feeling, so I wasn’t able to get the help I needed.”

The team held three practice sessions in the first two days of training camp. Okafor said he knew the Sixers would be cautious with his workload. He is poised to improve upon his rookie year in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 53 games last season.

“I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I’m all good.”

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- With Joel Embiid's excitement to be on the court following two years of injuries comes the reality of his lengthy setback.

Embiid is participating in his first NBA training camp this week. While he has impressed with his natural abilities and improved skills, Embiid is facing challenges as he gets accustomed to the league.

"Everything is kind of off right now as far as catching the ball or shooting," Embiid said after practice Wednesday. "I've still got to get in the flow of the game."

Embiid has yet to play since being drafted in 2014. For the past two years he has worked out individually and in controlled settings. Practices, even in training camp, are different. 

"You see all the time when you realize he hasn't played basketball for a long time," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "He's trying to gather his feet and find his balance, he's trying to figure out stuff in real time speed on defensive assignments and rotations."

On Wednesday, Embiid went through practice without any minute restrictions and was feeling healthier from the cold and virus he had been battling (see story). Teammates have praised his physical presence and eagerness to compete. He makes an impact with his 7-foot-2 presence alone, but there is more he wants to improve. 

Embiid is adjusting to the speed of the game. He has been facing challenges with getting the ball in the post and spoke to the coaches about his frustrations. The staff explained they are focusing on pick-and-roll defense and getting out to run during training camp, but he will get that desired location in game situations. 

“You continue to see the size of Joel Embiid,” Brown said. “He's a big man and he's got a mindset to back up his physical gifts. He really wants the ball. He wants to get deep catches. He wants to dunk on people.”

Embiid always has been realistic about his transition to his rookie season. He has pointed out many times that he is a fast learner, and is anxious to soak up new knowledge and apply it to the court.

"It's really frustrating," he said. "But like I've said, you've got to trust the process, which I've been doing."