On a late-summer afternoon in 2016, Joel Embiid is throwing a fit — and Elton Brand is catching it.
For weeks, Embiid has been dominating pickup games at the Sixers’ old practice facility at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. After losing the first two seasons of his career to a broken bone in his right foot, he’s spent months refining the exquisite footwork that would, in short order, propel him to almost instant stardom. But for now, in this gym, the chore of defending Embiid down low is the burden of none other than Brand — a 37-year-old who’s just played out a veterans minimum contract for what will ultimately become the last season of his 17-year career.cheap nfl nike jerseys china
On certain days, when NBA big-man prospects and journeymen drift through PCOM to participate in workouts, Brand is relieved of this Sisyphean duty, as indicated on a sheet posted on the wall. But on this day, a certain highly touted collegiate center who was scheduled to face the 22-year-old Embiid is a late scratch — so Brand finds his name back on the wall. And Embiid, who’d been licking his chops at the chance to school a contemporary, is incensed.
“This is bulls–t!” Embiid yells, stomping across the hardwood.
And then, in case the point wasn’t yet clear, he hurls the ball across the gym.
“The night before, I’d been watching Shaq’s highlights, and I wanted the competition,” Embiid says today. “I needed someone to go back at me.”
For all the conversation in recent years about the vital role of organizational culture, the most pivotal figures in its construction are typically not the suits upstairs or the head coach but the superstar. Michael Jordan’s exactitude and pathological competitiveness defined the ’90s Bulls. Gregg Popovich’s insistence that the Spurs’ culture was a distillation of Tim Duncan wasn’t a display of false modesty but a truism that has revealed itself in Golden State, where a team that plays with infectious joy reflects the passion of Stephen Curry.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale
But today, two years removed from that outburst, on a team searching for an identity to propel a Process the Sixers have trusted to its highest goal, it is an open question whose team they are — and exactly whose spirit they will channel.