Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey knows the power of words. He’s already been fined $50,000 for tampering this season, a topic he gently tip-toes around now. When it comes to those crazy diehard Philly fans, Morey isn’t as tight-lipped.
And why should he be? The Cleveland native knows the type, having lived through that “gritty vibe” from those passionate Browns fans. Morey recently spoke with Sports Illustrated for a long-ranging interview where he explained his kinship with the City of Brotherly Love.
“It just feels like I’m back home a little bit,” Morey told Howard Beck. “The passion of those Browns fans is the passion I feel (from fans) for the Sixers. Obviously, they have a passion for the Eagles, as well, in a frightening way. Like, they’re ready to blow up the Eagles’ stadium — and they won the Super Bowl recently! Like, even if we win the title, they’re going to be tarring and feathering us the next year.”
The whole article is a great read and starts with a great anecdote about Morey randomly picking a Philly cheesesteak shop. The front-office executive is almost ashamed to admit his first authentic steak came from Pat’s King of Steaks in South Philly and not Geno’s — for the record, this humble reporter believes Morey made the right choice between the two neon dives in Cheesesteak Vegas.
Joel Embiid is ‘Most Unstoppable Thing’
Morey spent the previous 13 seasons running the Houston Rockets’ organization and turning them into perennial contenders. First, he built the upstart franchise around the dominating nucleus of Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, then rebuilt the Rockets again in 2012 after trading for James Harden.
They advanced to six Western Conference semifinals and two Western Conference finals in a 13-year stretch. Morey was named NBA Executive of the Year in 2018. Impressive. Now he’s trying to help the Sixers turn the corner following a first-round exit in last year’s Orlando bubble.
Morey wouldn’t guarantee a championship but believes his three stars — Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris — give the Sixers “a formula for a team that can win the title,” per Sports Illustrated. And Embiid is the key to everything, an unstoppable force the likes of which he’s never seen.
“I get in trouble when I say stuff like this but he’s the most unstoppable thing I’ve ever seen,” Morey said of Embiid. “And I’ve seen a lot. You know who I’ve seen, [James Harden]. But I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Getting Ready for Second Half of Season
Team LeBron beat Team Durant 170-150 on Sunday night in Atlanta, a game which put Sixers coach Doc Rivers under the microscope. The way he dispersed the minutes for Team Durant raised suspicions among some Eastern Conference rivals.
To be fair, Rivers was playing shorthanded after Embiid and Simmons were ruled out a few hours before tip-off due to COVID-19 protocols. LeBron James commented on the absences of the Sixers’ star players.
“Well, I think it’s very unfortunate that Joel and Ben won’t be able to play on our game tonight,” James told reporters, via The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey. “Obviously, they are two worthy All-Stars, and this means a lot to all of us, even no matter how you feel about having to be here.”
Meanwhile, Rivers revealed that Embiid and Simmons both tested negative for COVID-19 and remain hopeful they can return to action on March 11. If not, he knows it’s going to be a much tougher row to hoe.
“We start on the road, back-to-back games, with one practice. That’s a challenge in itself, right?,” Rivers said after the All-Star Game. “Then, obviously, not having those guys, that’s a lot of points, our two best defenders. So, obviously, it would hurt. But listen, we would show up and we would try to win both games, I can tell you that.”