Yet again, all the attention is on Joel Embiid.
On Monday night, the Sixers star took to Instagram to post a quote from the 2008 Batman film The Dark Knight (“You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain"), which appears to be a response to fans who booed during the team’s win over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday.
But what is drawing the most attention is a back-and-forth between Embiid and his former teammate Jimmy Butler, where it appears the Heat star is trying to recruit Embiid to join him in Miami.
“I know a place where villains are welcome,” Butler commented, to which Embiid replied, “Damn right my brother.”
Embiid later clarified his comments on Twitter, writing, “Made for this... If I can take it then you can too. PHILA TOUGH!!!” But fueling the speculation about Embiid’s possible interest in destinations outside of Philadelphia were comments made by ESPN NBA insider Brian Windhorst on his podcast The Hoop Collective.
“One of the conversations people are starting to have in the league is, ‘Will they move Embiid? What’s the price? Where would he go?,’” Windhorst said Monday. “It’s such a radical thing, but the fact that we’re in mid-February and the people who work in the league, who have to prepare in advance, are mulling over Joel Embiid potentially coming to market, whether that’s true or not... I mean, Josh Harris can come on this podcast and deny it if he wants, but the fact people are talking about it, is not good. It’s a symptom of where they are.”
It also doesn’t help that the quote Embiid shared on Instagram happens to be the same quote Butler turned to in an Instagram post in October 2018 before he was traded to the Sixers by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Naturally, Embiid’s comments are fueling reactions across sports media, especially in Philadelphia. Here’s a round-up of what sports talkers and NBA analysts are saying about Embiid and his social media antics:
97.5 The Fanatic morning show co-host Marc Farzetta:
94.1 WIP morning show co-host Rhea Hughes:
NBC Sports Philadelphia analyst Keith Jones:
FS1 First Things First co-host Nick Wright:
FS1 analyst and former NBA player Antoine Walker:
Despite the interest in new Phillies head coach Joe Girardi, NBC Sports Philadelphia is dramatically reducing the number of spring training games it will air this season.
Just 10 of the team’s spring training games will air on NBC Sports Philly this year, down from 16 last season (and 17 in 2018). As in previous years, the bulk of the games will air on NBC Sports Philadelphia+, and all 10 will be streamed live on both the NBC Sports and the MyTeams apps, though both require a cable subscription.
It’s unclear why NBC Sports Philly has backed off airing spring training games. A spokesperson said in a statement the network “remains thoroughly committed to covering the Philadelphia Phillies during Spring Training and throughout the regular season," pointing out NBC Sports Philly would air “more than 150 regular season games” this year.
The 10 Phillies spring training games that NBC Sports Philly will broadcast are:
Returning to call Phillies spring training games for the fourth-straight year are Tom McCarthy, John Kruk, Ben Davis, and Gregg Murphy. Their NBC Sports Philly colleagues Jim Salisbury and Ricky Bottalico are also in Clearwater following a road trip they filmed and shared on social media. Among the stops were Duncan Park in Spartanburg, S.C., where Bottalico made his minor-league debut with the Spartanburg Phillies back in 1991. The duo also stopped at one or two Wawas along the way, including one in Ocala, Fla. (one of 167 locations in the Sunshine State).
The Phillies invited a huge roster of 69 players to Clearwater for spring training, which is believed to be a club record. Pitchers and catchers report Tuesday, and the team’s first workout is Wednesday.
• The NFL appears to be looking into the possibility of adding flex scheduling for Monday Night Football. According to a report by Sports Business Daily’s Ben Fisher and John Ourand, ESPN is lobbying the NFL with the promise it will move its games to ABC (and a larger audience) if it can renew its broadcast deal with the league, which expires following the 2021 season. In return, ESPN wants the ability to flex out of bad games the way NBC can for Sunday Night Football.
The NFL is reportedly asking teams for feedback on the idea, which if adopted would go into effect beginning with the 2023 season (the league’s TV deals with CBS, FOX, and NBC all expire following the 2022 season).
• The XFL appears to be off to a decent start, posting strong TV ratings for its four-game reboot last weekend. The Seattle Dragons-D.C. Defenders debut on Saturday averaged 3.3 million viewers on ABC, according to Nielsen, drawing more viewers than the Duke-North Carolina men’s college basketball game on ESPN later in the night. ESPN’s two XFL games averaged 2.9 million viewers, while Fox’s St. Louis BattleHawks-Dallas Renegades matchup averaged a little less than 2.5 million viewers.
The real test will be how the XFL holds up in coming weeks, as interest in the novelty of the league fades and the football itself becomes the focal point.
• It’s no secret that TV networks would love to add Peyton Manning and Drew Brees to their NFL coverage. But former Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers might also look to follow Tony Romo to the booth, ESPN insider Adam Schefter speculated on Monday during a SportsCenter call-in.