Joel Embiid was trying to put words to what Sixers culture is all about. And how James Harden – a basketball nomad in the truest sense of the word – was able to burst into town and strike up instant chemistry with him. But the All-Star center intentionally veered off on a trip down memory lane.
The man who called himself “The process” intentionally necessary to remind everyone of the trials and tribulations he has been through since 2014. wild ridefilled with burner counts and tanking, for Cameroon’s skinny kid.
“I’ve been through a lot,” Embiid said. “Whether you’re talking about fucking GMs using burner accounts, or talking rubbish about their players. I always thought I would always have a coach for the rest of my career at Coach Brown, and obviously we have changed, and I’ve seen so many players. I remember my first two or three years, we probably had over 80 players in a year, guys coming in and guys getting kicked out. It’s tough. It is difficult to keep this culture.
The culture these days is fun, based on “scary minutes” and joint press conferences. Everyone smiles. Everybody is happy. Everyone is having fun. Credit the whole organization, not just Embiid.
“I wouldn’t say it’s all about me,” Embiid said. “Obviously I’ve been here the longest and I’ve been lucky to continue to meet trade deadlines and not get traded and all that. It’s not about me. We’ve got a bunch of great people working behind the scenes, whether it’s staff or guys in the arena or at the practice facility, so it’s not about me.
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Tyrese Maxey, the hardest worker in construction
Tyrese Maxey was already becoming one of the best young guards in basketball. This growth has reached lightning speed since Harden’s arrival. He’s able to play with the ball, at shooting guard – and use his unrivaled quickness to get to the rim and lay down sneaky floaters. Maxey also added a version of the Harden brand jumping back to his game.
“My speed is the factor because everyone is trying to pick me up, pick me downhill and get me into the lane,” Maxey said. “So if I can go strong and get back to all three quickly, then I have an advantage because I have a lot of space.”
The 21-year-old scored 25 points on Wednesday night after a tough first half. He embraced the moment Harden challenged him. Everything stems from his crazy work ethicone of the first guys in and the last out.
“He’s the hardest worker I’ve ever been with,” Embiid said. “He shows up, it doesn’t matter if it’s a back-to-back, he’s going to show up the next day. He’s going to come in the evening and work.
Harden continues to fill out the stat sheet
Harden is averaging 27.3 points and 12.3 assists in his first three games with the Sixers. He is the first player since Allen Iverson in 2006 — the Hall of Famer was in Denver, not Philadelphia — to average at least 25 points and 10 cents in their first three games with a franchise. So, yeah, you could say Harden has embraced a much-needed change of scenery.
“My role is the same. I’m very vocal, I try to do my best by leading by example on the pitch,” Harden said. “My role doesn’t change wherever I go. I’m always going to be James Harden and that’s all I know I am.
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