What Jalen Hurts can teach Sixers’ Joel Embiid and James Harden

Joel Embiid and James Harden. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Joel Embiid and James Harden. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

The city of Philadelphia is waking up this morning with huge disappointment. The Eagles lost the Super Bowl to the Kansas City Chiefs 38-35. The one constant throughout the highs and lows in the season though has been Jalen Hurts. Hurts is a born leader and always knows the right thing to say. He has been doubted by everyone throughout his football career and yet there he was yesterday, on football’s biggest stage, playing admirably in the Super Bowl. Hurts’ motivation and focus are assets Philadelphia 76ers superstars Joel Embiid and James Harden can learn from.

Flashback to early February when the NBA All-Star starters were announced. There was a glaring omission: Joel Embiid was not on the list. Embiid has since been selected as an injury replacement starter, but that is not the point. Fast forward a week when the All-Star reserves were announced and there was yet another deserved Philadelphia 76er missing, James Harden. The disrespect and doubts are so glaring, but I am here to tell you why that is a good thing.

The NBA All-Star game is an exhibition game for fans.

Understanding that fact I do not mind fans having the majority of voting power for whom they want to see start the game. What I do mind is the strict positions that must be voted on. Today’s NBA is more positionless than it has been in the game’s history. Why can’t Giannis Antetokounmpo and Embiid both be selected as starters? Because they both happen to share a “C” before their names in the box score?

Embiid is leading the NBA in scoring for a second consecutive year, averaging 33.4 points per game. This year, he is the most dominant player in the Eastern Conference, yet he was not originally selected to start the All-Star game. Harden is leading the league in assists and playing better than most Eastern Conference guards, yet he is not playing in the All-Star game at all.

Harden is averaging more points, rebounds, and assists per game than Holiday and Haliburton, two Eastern Conference reserves. Holiday is averaging 19.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 7.1 assists per game respectively. Compare that to Harden’s  21.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and league-leading 10.8 assists per game, respectively. Next up is Haliburton. Again his statistics are 19.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 10.1 assists per game, all lower than Harden’s.

What did Jason Kelce say when the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl 5 years ago?

“No one likes us, we don’t care.”

Well, it seems Harden cares. He posted an IG story that just said “the disrespect” right when the All-Star reserves were announced.

We know Embiid cares and felt snubbed the last two years, whether fairly or unfairly, about coming in second to Nikola Jokic twice in MVP voting. Add to that this All-Star starter nonsense and what do you get? You get Embiid going out in the game following the announcement and putting up 47 points and 18 rebounds head-to-head against Jokic and leading the Sixers to a comeback win.

Now as much as I sympathize with Embiid and Harden, a part of me likes the fact they are getting overlooked and disrespected. In Philly, we know that exact thing drove Jalen Hurts. Hopefully, Embiid and Harden can learn from Hurts’ by putting their heads down and putting in the work.

Maybe then they can follow the Eagles’ trajectory to a Championship and hopefully win one for this city. So thank you to the media, players, and coaches! You are the real MVPs for continuing to disrespect Embiid, Harden, and the greatest sports city.