“History will be re-tweeted.”
That was the message taped on the back of Joel Embiid’s shirt as he walked to the podium to speak to reporters after the Sixers’ 103-92 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Check out Joel Embiid’s shirt: pic.twitter.com/UpL2afKWoe
— Jessica Camerato (@JCameratoNBCS) May 8, 2018
Obviously, the wit and humor Embiid displays on social media have earned him millions of followers, though the Sixers phenom hasn’t sent out a tweet or posted on Instagram since April 14, ahead of the team’s first playoff game against the Miami Heat (when he not-so-subtly predicted the Sixers’ path to the NBA Finals).
While he’s been absent from social media for nearly a month, Embiid showed off his playful side when discussing his in-game skirmish with Celtics guard Terry Rozier, captured by my colleague Ed Barkowitz.
“He kept the ball away from me and tried to punch me twice,” Embiid explained, “but too bad he’s so short that he couldn’t get to my face. I was just trying to get the ball, and he was the one who swung.”
Joel Embiid didn't let up on Terry Rozier after the game. pic.twitter.com/cRp6wE1Tx7
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 8, 2018
It certainly would be historic if the Sixers managed to come back and defeat the Celtics, as no team in NBA history has overcome a 3-0 playoff deficit. But that hasn’t shaken the confidence of Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, who was at the Wells Fargo Center watching Game 4.
“We just had a couple of costly turnovers late in these ballgames, and hopefully they can clean some things up,” Wentz said on the NFL Network’s Good Morning Football on Monday. “I don’t see why they can’t win four straight and advance.”
— Rob Tornoe (@RobTornoe) May 8, 2018
Ben Simmons explains his bling
Embiid wasn’t the only Sixers player who made a fashion statement Monday night.
Rookie Ben Simmons, who rebounded in Game 4 by posting a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds, sat next to Embiid on the podium after the game sporting a necklace combination many on social media compared to Mr. T., topped by a large gold kangaroo that didn’t escape the attention of Fox Sports Australia reporter Duncan McKenzie-McHarg.
“Can you please tell us something about the kangaroo bling because they love it back home?” McKenzie-McHarg asked the Australian native, causing Embiid to immediately stare at Simmons’ chest.
>> READ MORE: Where are the Sixers from? Mapping the 2017-18 roster
“The bling, that’s something just representing home,” Simmons responded.
Simmons spent nearly a week with the crew of 60 Minutes Australia for an interview with correspondent Tom Steinfort that aired earlier this month and featured insight on his upbringing in Australia and his family. Watch the full interview here.
ESPN’s experiment with ‘Monday Night Football’
Moving from the basketball court to the football field, it appears ESPN has finalized its crew for Monday Night Football, and it looks as if the network is going to try something new.
Though ESPN hasn’t formally announced or confirmed every hire, we know that former Cowboys tight end Jason Witten has retired from the NFL to join the booth as Monday Night Football’s new analyst, replacing Jon Gruden, who was hired by the Oakland (soon to be Las Vegas) Raiders as their new head coach.
According to both the New York Post and The Athletic, long-time college football play-by-play announcer Joe Tessitore will replace play-by-play announcer Sean McDonough, who is moving back to college after just a two-year run. And sideline reporter Lisa Salters (who grew up in King of Prussia rooting for the Eagles) will return to the role she’s held since 2012.
But ESPN is also adding an on-field analyst, a first for Monday Night Football, which will reportedly be filled by college football analyst and former NFL defensive tackle Booger McFarland, considered to be a rising star at the network.
According to The Athletic’s Richard Deitch, executives at ESPN have thought about adding the position for some time, and used the Pro Bowl as a test, with Louis Riddick ably filling the role. It’s similar to the role Tony Siragusa filled on Fox Sports for nine seasons, when he offered analysis from the field (sometimes alongside multiple screens and a Telestrator) as part of the broadcast featuring Kenny Albert and Daryl Johnston (they dubbed themselves “Kenny, Moose and Goose”).
“The advantage for an analyst on the field is having a sideline view of line play and potentially pick up tidbits from the bench,” the Post’s Andrew Marchand wrote. “The disadvantage is the three broadcasters can’t make eye contact, which can lead to talking over one another or sounding stilted as they wait for the go-ahead from a producer.”
In addition to the new role, the big question for ESPN will be how prepared Witten will be as a broadcaster, considering the high-profile nature of Monday Night Football, easily the network’s most popular program. According to Deitch, Witten will take part in a summer broadcasting boot camp alongside Tessitore and executive producer Jay Rothman, so we’ll see if he ends up as polished at former teammate Tony Romo was after a crash course in broadcasting at CBS.