Joel Embiid causes uproar with forecast of Cavaliers’ demise, Sixers’ rise

Joel Embiid causes uproar with forecast of Cavaliers’ demise, Sixers’ rise

“Joel Embiid predicts 76ers will end Cavs’ reign as soon as next year” -- Sporting News

If Joel Embiid does one thing almost as well as he plays basketball, it’s make headlines. The only problem with that is occasionally his words wind up getting blown out of proportion.

Technically, Embiid expressed his belief that the Sixers can compete with LeBron James and the defending world-champion Cleveland Cavaliers next season. Then again, promoting that as the heart of Embiid’s statement really isn’t in the spirit of what he said.

You be the judge. Is Embiid predicting the Sixers will end the Cavaliers’ reign, as multiple outlets are suggesting? Or is he simply observing the Sixers are built to one day take the Cavaliers’ place as the class of the Eastern Conference, and should be able to fight for a spot at the table as soon as 2018?

“I think we’re building up at the right time and when we start getting good that’s when Cleveland and LeBron (James) will start going down,” Embiid said at the NBA draft lottery on Tuesday, via Keith Pompey for the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I think when it is all said and done and we actually mature and are ready to compete for a championship, I think we’ll be great.”

“When I say we are going to be ready to win when the Cavs are going down, that doesn’t mean five years. Next year, I think we are going to be ready to win.”

It’s pretty clear what Embiid was driving at here. James is 32 and bound to start slowing down soon. As he does, the Cavs will slide with him. Meanwhile, the Sixers are set to make their fourth consecutive top-three pick in the NBA draft this year. They have a chance to develop into a dominant force over the next decade, but if everybody is healthy, are certainly talented enough to compete right now.

That seems fair. The condensed version, on the other hand, only aims to put a target on the Sixers’ backs.

“Joel Embiid says 76ers gearing up to beat Cavaliers, LeBron James” -- ESPN

“Joel Embiid Says 76ers Will Win Next Year” -- Bleacher Report

“Joel Embiid Says Lebron and Cavs ‘Going Down’” -- Total Pro Sports

The fact of the matter is Embiid is correct -- that is, what Embiid actually said. The Cavaliers are built around the best player in the NBA, and as his talent erodes, their time at the top dwindles. Whenever that time comes, five years from now or next, the Sixers will be poised to strike.

Then again, there was one story that both takes Embiid to task and probably has it right.

“Joel Embiid is targeting the Cavaliers but he should be aiming for the Celtics” -- Philadelphia Daily News

With the Boston Celtics emerging from the lottery with the No. 1 pick, already playing the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals and sharing the Atlantic Division with the Sixers, Embiid may have his sights sets on toppling the wrong foe.

The Game of Zones-Joel Embiid mashup you didn't know you needed

The Game of Zones-Joel Embiid mashup you didn't know you needed

There are times in all of our Internet lives when we come across a piece of content that we don't quite understand, that we didn't really know we needed, yet fills our black Philadelphia sports fan hearts with joy anyway.

Today is one of those days.

And that piece of content is this Game of Zones x Embiid mashup.

If you're unfamiliar, this is the latest in Bleacher Report's fun take on a Game of Thrones / NBA mashup.

There's the mountain of a man that is Joel Embiid laid up with a presumably bum knee. There's the Temple of Shirley potion to give him life. There's the maester Sam Hinkie shouting off his analytics spells. There's Hinkie talking about growing the seeds and reaping the harvest. There's a terrifying looking Dario. There is a raising of the cat. 

Perhaps the best part is Jahlil Okafor attempting to hold the door.

What does it all mean? I don't know. But I trust it.

Jim Harbaugh takes blame for Jim Schwartz handshake feud

Jim Harbaugh takes blame for Jim Schwartz handshake feud

With one season in Philadelphia under Jim Schwartz’s belt, Eagles fans are well aware of the intensity the defensive coordinator brings to the sidelines. But before joining Doug Pederson's staff, Schwartz attracted plenty of attention during a five-year stint as head coach of the Detroit Lions from 2009-2013. A highlight of his tenure in the Motor City developed a new wrinkle this week.

Maybe the most memorable moment during his time in Detroit was the unnecessarily ugly midfield feud in 2011’s Week 6 with then-49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh. Schwartz marched to midfield for the postgame handshake after his Lions took their first loss of the season. Harbaugh, a usually-excited guy with cause for a little extra enthusiasm after a fourth straight win, came in too strong for Schwartz’s liking. Schwartz chased down Harbaugh as he ran for the tunnel and the two exchanged some choice words. Coaches and players flocked to the tussle. What started as standard postgame procedure became the national talking-point nobody needed for the ensuing week.

The six-year-old incident returned to the conversation this week with Harbaugh, now the head coach at the University of Michigan, admitting on Barstool Sports’ Pardon My Take podcast (and as transcribed by ESPN) that he was to blame for things getting out of hand. 

"I went in too hard on that, too aggressive on the handshake," Harbaugh said on the podcast. "We've talked, and we're good. We're back to friends. ... There is a protocol in a postgame handshake. I've been there as the winner. I've been there as a loser. You just, 'Nice game,' then go celebrate. Premature celebration there, in the wrong."

On top of discussing his gifting Pope Francis a pair of Jordan sneakers and his theory that bringing a glove to catch a foul ball is acceptable for fans, Harbaugh went on to explain the last time he got in a real fight, as opposed to the silly scrum that went down at Ford Field that fateful day. He was 39, at the end of his days as a player, and got into it with two men at a restaurant.

"I did not win," he said. "I cannot say I won. I didn't get crushed, either. I got some blows in."

Harbaugh has a reputation for his passion, and the handshake debacle with Schwartz was no exception. It’s just that his passion often translates to doing things in a non-traditional way. He’s the khakis guy, always sporting his trademark dad-pants on the sidelines — he even tucked an Allen Iverson jersey into them once. He’ll do anything to get a leg up in recruiting, for example, sleeping over at a recruit's house for some “Netflix and Chill.”

Schwartz, similarly, is frequently fired up, and that aggression bleeds into his defensive scheme. 

Harbaugh is in the college game now, so the development in this nearly forgotten exchange isn’t life-changing. But if he ever returns to the pros, it’s good to know a postgame handshake with Schwartz wouldn't revive any bad blood.