By Michael Bennett
Sixers center Joel Embiid has been criticized, sometimes with merit, for not being in shape. NBA shape.
So he has hired a personal chef, nutritionist, physical therapist and massage therapist.
“I’m doing whatever I can to take care of my body so I’m able to play 20 years here in Philly,” Embiid told the AP. “That’s the thing I’ve learned the most since I’ve been in the league.”
In his first six seasons (two of which he missed completely because of broken bones in his feet) he has teased with greatness, never enough to sustain it over a full season.
That led to serious changes for the Sixers as they regroup from their transformation from a franchise expected to contend for the Eastern Conference crown into one that needed a serious facelift and has — for now — tempered title enthusiasm. Daryl Morey, long the architect in Houston, took over as the top decision-maker in Philly and Doc Rivers was hired as coach.
The roster got a needed revamp with shooters like Seth Curry, Danny Green and first-round pick Tyrese Maxey brought aboard to fire up an offense that ranked 13th in efficiency and was swept in the playoffs.
What hasn’t changed?
For better or worse, the 76ers are still hitched to Embiid and All-Star guard Ben Simmons as the max-contract cornerstones expected to eventually lead the franchise to its first title since 1983.
“The main thing is winning,” Embiid said. “When you win, everybody wins. If we win, that means all these awards, I’m part of it, I’m up there or those considerations. A player, I guess, of my talent should always be in MVP conversations or defensive player of the year conversations. All-NBA. It should be like that every year. But to be able to accomplish that, you’ve got to win.”