The conspiracy theorists were in full-on JFK mode after a picture showing Joel Embiid and Jayson Tatum working out together went viral on social media. It was posted by famed NBA trainer Drew Hanlen who counts both superstar players as clients.
If a picture can really tell a thousand words, then this one was a Picasso. Immediately, imaginations (and speculation) ran wild in the comments where casual fans started pondering a possible Embiid-Tatum pairing in Beantown. Notice the term “casual fans.” It was used because anyone paying close attention knows that Embiid and Tatum routinely work out together in the offseason. They have a mutual respect and well-known friendship based on their love of the game.
Embiid and Tatum often swap tips on things like ball handling and post moves.
“It’s cool. Obviously, he’s one of the best players, especially best big men, and we kind of have that rivalry between us and Philly,” Tatum told the Boston Globe in 2018. “He’s a cool guy. We have the same trainer so just to be in the gym together and just competing against each other is cool.”
More telling than the photo itself was what Embiid was wearing on the court. The 7-footer sported a shirt reading “Rent’s Due” which may have been an ode to a catchphrase made popular (at least in Philadelphia) by Eagles star Jalen Hurts. The dual-threat quarterback has used it time and time again to describe his insane work ethic and intense need for constant competition. He never takes a day off.
“No one is above that,” Hurts said, via Pro Football Talk. “Everybody’s got to go to work. Rent is due every day. It’s always been that way for me. Always had a get better mentality every day. Grow every day, be a better leader every day, be a better quarterback every day. When that rent’s due, I don’t plan on missing payments.”
Hurts has kind of beaten the term into the ground like a dead horse over the years. That being said, it rings truer than ever. Hurts actually practices what he preaches and uses it as motivation to lead the Eagles on an improbable Super Bowl run in 2023. If Embiid was watching that team chase a championship — and he most certainly was, throwing footballs on the sideline at one point — then watch out. Reports have suggested he’s been on a mission to show up at training camp in the “best shape of his life.”
Embiid looked slimmer than usual, not to mention a bit more jacked.
Was the camera angle perfectly intentional? Was his trainer trying to promote his client amid trade rumors? Maybe. Who cares. The point is that he looked good and healthy, and the words on his shirt spoke volumes. Forget the rumors. Embiid is committed and motivated. And he might be ready to borrow a page out of Hurts’ playbook and take everyone on a magic carpet ride.