Joel Embiid gets a lot of grief for trolling people. So when he took a minute to throw a compliment at the man taking his place in the Philadelphia 76ers starting lineup, well it kind of went viral — and for good reason.
Reserve center Tony Bradley got the nod in Embiid’s absence (COVID-19 protocols) on Thursday night and shot a perfect 7-for-7 from the field for 14 points. He did all the dirty work, winning his one-on-one matchups in the paint while recording five rebounds and three blocks. Embiid had seen enough late in the third quarter and tweeted out: “Build around Tony Bradley.”
The reactions on social media were priceless around the league. After the Sixers’ 127-105 win in Chicago, Bradley — a first-round pick of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017 — expressed his appreciation for Embiid. His goal was simply to bring some contagious energy to the court. Which he did.
Lol thanks bro 🤣🤣🤣 https://t.co/Brw2aERHvz
— Tony Bradley Jr. 🏂 (@ToBrad1) March 12, 2021
“It makes me feel good, for him to have that support,” Bradley said, “and for him to say that, it’s funny, especially coming from Joel. I appreciate it.”
When one reporter asked Bradley if he felt like he was Embiid out there, the 23-year-old chuckled and tried to come up with a serious answer.
“Joel plays the same way, I guess,” Bradley said. “Everything falls, all the shots fall … so I guess I did, I guess I did feel like Joel.”
📹 @ToBrad1 came in ready to hoop.
14 PTS | 5 REB | 3 BLK pic.twitter.com/0D1z1ZKIMD
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) March 12, 2021
Doc Rivers Jumps on Bradley Bandwagon
It wasn’t just Embiid throwing accolades at Bradley. Sixers head coach Doc Rivers was quick to coronate the new king in town (center controversy anyone?) and talked about how hard the North Carolina product works in the gym. Rivers also revealed that Bradley had lost 25 pounds in an effort to get quicker and healthier.
“He works every single day on his body and on his skill,” Rivers said. “And just because he doesn’t play doesn’t mean the other guys don’t notice what he’s doing. I thought the entire bench, everyone was so happy for him as he was playing.”
Tony Bradley credited Doc Rivers and the rest of the Sixers coaching staffs for implementing “low minute group” practices for his weight loss
Bradley talked about the high intensity sessions with the guys who don’t play major game minutes says he now weights around 245 pounds
— Sean Barnard (@Sean_Barnard1) March 12, 2021
Bradley confirmed the weight loss, adding that he’s down to 245 pounds.
“I feel a lot better, moving wise, laterally,” Bradley said. “Just less on my knees, less pressure, so overall I feel great.”
But it wasn’t just Bradley’s fill-in work that beat the Bulls and kept the Sixers a half-game ahead of the Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference. No, it was a collective effort from their role players and bench guys. It was an encouraging sign as they get set to endure nine back-to-backs in the second half of the season.
“These wins really solidify your team, like they really do,” Rivers said. “They allow your team to believe that we’re good as a team. Obviously, we know Joel and obviously, we need Ben [Simmons] to win a title but when you can win games without your top guys on the floor, it gives everybody confidence that they can play and contribute. It was a really important win for us.”
Sixers Travel Straight to Washington
No rest for the weary, right? The Sixers were set to hop right on a plane after Thursday night’s win and head to Washington, D.C.
They’ll face a suddenly surging Wizards squad that won eight of their last 12 games before the All-Star break. Philly is hoping to get Embiid back for Friday’s game, but Simmons must quarantine for one more contest. Both players were exposed to a person who tested positive for COVID-19.
— Michael Greger (@mike_greger) March 11, 2021
“We talked about it yesterday, we talked about it this morning, about the importance of showing up to win games no matter who was on the floor,” Rivers said on Thursday. “It’s going to be a tough ride but we’re going to have win games anyway — and the only way we’re going to do that is through accountability and as a team. And I think our guys heard that and did that tonight.”
Injury update: Bradley Beal (left knee soreness) is questionable for tomorrow’s #WizSixers.
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) March 12, 2021