Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid went viral on Sunday night for wearing a huge gold chain on the bench. It looked like he was channeling his inner Flavor Flav, but the first shiny glimmer of the “Big Energy Chain” came into focus back in March.
It started with the team’s newest tradition: the Postgame Party. Sixers team reporter Lauren Rosen did a deep dive on how the players turned to unorthodox ways of bonding during this unusual season. Since the NBA’s rigid COVID-19 protocols prohibited impromptu gatherings, the guys in the locker room got creative.
Veteran center Dwight Howard started inviting teammates to participate in postgame shooting workouts, but he was overdoing it. So they pivoted to a more structured program, something overseen by Ben Kenyon who serves as the Sixers’ head strength and conditioning coach.
“The first time I had a meeting with Doc [Rivers], he was explaining his philosophy of positive energy,” Kenyon told Rosen. “When you walk into the facility, you should hear music in the back, in our weight room, you should hear music on the court. This should be a space where our guys are injected with optimism, injected with positive energy at all times, because it allows our guys to feel good about being in that space.”
In addition to positive energy, Kenyon wanted to hand out a physical award to the biggest workout warrior. Hence, the “Big Energy Chain.” Rosen tells the story:
Inspired by a tradition in Portland (involving a smaller chain), Kenyon brought the Big Energy Chain to the Sixers in early 2021.
Kenyon collaborated with ProAmBelts — the same company Kenyon worked with in Portland — in December 2020 to order the Sixers’ custom-made chain.
“I said, ‘Dude, I need something that’s bigger, and better, and badder than what we did with the Blazers,’” Kenyon said. “We came up with a really cool concept — obviously the flex is everything.”
It was an immediate hit, as Sixers players began battling for the chance to wear the chain.
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Tyrese Maxey Breaks Out in Season Finale
The Sixers rested players during Sunday night’s regular-season finale, listing their starting five out due to injury: Joel Embiid (illness), Ben Simmons (back), Tobias Harris (right knee), Seth Curry (right hip), Danny Green (left hip).
And Philadelphia still earned a 128-117 victory over the Orlando Magic on the backs of Tyrese Maxey, Paul Reed, Shake Milton, Isaiah Joe. Maxey was the breakout performer as he finished with a team-high 30 points while going 11-of-19 from the field. The Sixers’ first-round pick out of Kentucky looks like a star in the making. Good thing they didn’t trade him at the deadline.
“I’ve put in the work, just working every single day. That creates confidence,” Maxey told reporters after the game. “My role is to stay ready and do whatever it takes for us to win. To be here and be successful at the highest level of basketball is a great feeling.”
Will that hard work translate into a spot in Rivers’ playoff rotation? Maybe. Although the head coach wasn’t ready to reveal that information.
Waiting For Play-In Tournament, Next Opponent
All the Sixers can do now is wait for the results of the NBA’s play-in tournament. They will host the No. 8 seed in the first round, a four-team field that includes the Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards, Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Hornets.
Philadelphia has gone 11-1 against those four teams this season so they like their chances. Especially since they own home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.
“I don’t care who we play,” Simmons told reporters. “That’s the point of having the number one seed. You feel like you’re the best team in the conference, so you’re supposed to be able to play anybody. If we were scared, we shouldn’t be in this position.”