Drama has been the unwanted buzzword slapped on the past few offseasons for the Philadelphia 76ers. After reluctantly turning the page on the failed Ben Simmons’ experiment, the franchise is navigating a similarly messy situation with James Harden. Only this time, the players are openly throwing support behind their disgruntled star as the front office figures out the next move.
Joel Embiid showed up to Media Day on October 2 wearing a knit cap emblazoned with the words “Red October” — a clear and intentional nod to Philly’s baseball team ahead of their first postseason game. The 7-footer carried a calming aura about him, fresh off a summer wedding and subsequent honeymoon amid all the chaos of another drama-filled offseason. Embiid cut right to the chase when reporters grilled him about the Harden fiasco. He wants him back in a Sixers’ uniform. Everyone in the locker room does, too. Now whether that actually happens remains above his pay grade.
“We’d love to have him. If he’s not (here), we still got a job to do,” Embiid told reporters. “When you play in Philly, it doesn’t matter who’s on the team. If they believe that you have a chance to win a championship, no matter what’s going on outside of here, that’s the goal. That’s the standard. There should never be any lost season. And I hope they understand that, and I think they understand that.”
Harden, as expected, was absent from the team facility as the Sixers posed for photos and answered questions from reporters.
The one-time MVP has decided to skip training camp which begins on October 3 at Colorado State University’s Moby Arena in Fort Collins. Meanwhile, Embiid showered Harden with love when asked to comment on Harden’s trade request. It’s out of his hands.
“I believe it’s unfortunate what has been going on, but the goal is to be together and try to win a championship,” Embiid said. “As far as myself, that’s all I’m focused on. I just want to win. Whatever it takes. And whatever puts us in a position as an organization and as myself that’s all I care about.”