This is about as surprising as the ending of the movie “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.”
Sixers coach Brett Brown came out Friday and denied a Sports Illustrated report that the Sixers organization was frustrated with Joel Embiid‘s dedication to rehab. CSNPhilly.com’s John Finger has his quotes.
“In general, what everybody has written has been factual, previously. There were portions that were factual that had been well documented early on,” Brown said before Friday night’s preseason game against the Washington Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center. “When you read about portions that have been reported, there are portions that are wildly inaccurate.”
Specifically, Brown had issue with the idea that he and GM Sam Hinkie had direct orders from owner Joshua Harris to keep Embiid from going to Las Vegas to watch Summer League this summer.
“I don’t know what that means or why it was said and it’s one of those things that we move on from,” Brown said. “We’re treating it as noise and we’re going to move on from it.”
Noise is NBA coach speak for anything they see as a distraction. Such as this story.
“It’s just wildly unfair some of the accusations as it relates to now. This story is old. The media in front of me did a helluva job of reporting accurately what has been going on,” Brown said. “So to wake up and have these things be revisited, I think it’s unfortunate and sad particularly because of the timing.”
First, what did you expect Brown to say? Regardless of the level of reality in the story, this was going to be the reaction of the Sixers staff — even a guy seen as a straight shooter such as Brown — because he has to protect his star. That’s the reality of today’s NBA.
Second, while I know and fully trust the reporter who published this story, anybody who speaks off the record in these kinds of situations is trying to spin things. No doubt there are people frustrated with Embiid and his recovery effort, but that doesn’t mean everyone — or even the people in decision-making positions — with the Sixers are.
Finally, if those people are not somewhat frustrated with Embiid, they should be. Questions about his dedication to the rehab process and conditioning are far from new, and if he is not wearing his boot or is pushing back on the Sixers medical staff, those are not good long-term signs.
Also, you should believe that there are people around and in the Sixers growing frustrated with the slow rebuild process. Not the decision makers. Yet. But the rumblings are out there.
As with all things NBA, if Embiid someday gets back on the court and performs like the franchise cornerstone player he was projected to be, this will all be forgotten. If not, well, this story and others like it will have legs.