Submit

What's Up, Philly

Jun 23 2017
Photo by
Sam Maller/The Players' Tribune
Photo by
Sam Maller/The Players' Tribune
Jun 23 2017

Y oooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

What’s up, Philly?

You good? I’m pretty good.

Today is a good day. Today we take The Process to another level.

But hold up. First, just let me have a second.

Yoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Mom, we did it! You’re my hero.

Shauntese, we did it! You’re the best sister in the world.

Keith, here we are. You helped train me. We did it!

We all did it. We did it together as a family.

Yooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!

Alright, I’m done. Just had to get that out of my system.

People sometimes tell me I don’t show a lot of emotion or whatever. The truth is, my mom raised me to never celebrate too much when things are good, and to never get too down when things aren’t. Life throws a lot at you, she’s always told me, so you have to stay on your toes and have faith.

But today, man … this is one of those days when I know she’d be cool with me celebrating a little bit.

It’s funny though — as excited as I am, Joel Embiid is 10 times more turnt right now. He’s probably popping off on Twitter or IG as we speak.

Since I visited, I swear Joel’s texted me 75 times since then. I’m not mad, I’m just concerned about his data plan.

Sorry, did I say Joel Embiid? I meant Mayor Embiid. Philly’s No. 1 spokesperson. He would be a great mayor.

Sam Maller/The Players' Tribune

It’s crazy to finally know for sure where I’m going to be playing next year. I just feel so relieved. It’s relief and excitement mixed together. Because you might think that I knew all along where I was gonna go. You might think that I was just sitting back knowing what would happen.

Not even.

When everyone was saying Boston was going to take me No. 1 for sure, even my trainer Keith didn’t have any guarantees. I remember there was one report that said I had refused to work out for the Sixers.

In my head I was like, Where’d they get that info? Not from my family.

But even more than that, I was like, They must not really know the real me.

Yeah, I always wanted to go No. 1, but who wouldn’t? The truth is, I just want to play ball.

A lot happened last week. It’s crazy that it’s only been seven days since I got invited to Philly. I found out last Friday morning. I woke up and thought I was going to Boston for another workout with the Celtics.

Sixers.com

Then Keith hit me up and said, “New plan. Philly.”

I was just waking up. So I was like, “O.K., cool. Do they have Chick-fil-A there?”

A crispy chicken sandwich for breakfast. It’s kind of like my good luck charm. Keith never got back to me about that important question. So I found out for myself. I googled it immediately.

Philly does have Chick-fil-A. It has six, actually.

Seven if you count the one at the airport. Boston has zero Chick-fil-As, for what it’s worth.

Before we hit the road from home, no one could find my mom. She was late. My mom is never late to anything, but that morning she was getting her hair done. I was a little anxious, but then I calmed down because you know what? Mom gets to do whatever she wants if she’s doing something for herself. After all the sacrifices she made for me and my sister, Mom gets to be late whenever she wants to. New rule.

Anyway, guess what happened when I showed up to the Sixers training facility? They’d ordered Chick-fil-A. It was there waiting for me on a table. For real. A bunch of sandwiches.

I don’t know how they knew, but they knew.

And I know it’s not a big deal, but a little part of me was thinking, Respect. They did their research.

After I got my physical, we drove to the gym for my workout. Apparently there was a concert in Philly that day and traffic was crazy, so we got a police escort to the gym. Sirens and all that. When we pulled up, there were already people waiting at the gate. But nobody outside the car could see through our tinted windows. Some of them were like, “Yo, who is it?” And I saw other people telling them that it was me. That was wild.

The workout was pretty normal, but the really cool thing about it was that Joel, Rob Covington and Ben Simmons were all watching from the sidelines. That made a big impact on me that they wanted to be there. I really appreciated that.

Sam Maller/The Players' Tribune

Joel came up after I had finished and of course the first thing he said was, “Trust the process.” All the guys took a picture with me and Joel was cracking everyone up. Now I get why he’s so good on Twitter. He’s the same guy in real life. (I’m serious: 75 texts in the last week.)

Obviously, Joel wiles out and he’s funny, but I can see that he really has love for this team. Being the mayor, he just wants the best for everybody. I remember seeing a video on Twitter of him working out next to Justin Anderson. Justin was doing sled push-ups and Joel was right beside him motivating him. It wasn’t jokes. It was real. That really stuck with me. I want to be a part of that kind of team.

But now that I’ve paid Joel a few compliments, I’m afraid I have to blow up his spot.

Because if you ask me, I’m the one who really invented “Trust the Process.”

What I mean is: If you look at my journey through high school, there were some similarities to the journey that the Sixers have been on the past few years.

First, my sophomore year of high school I tried out for the varsity team and I got cut.

I was pissed at first. I was embarrassed. I felt that it wasn’t fair, and I felt I was better than a lot of the guys who made varsity.

After that, a lot of people had advice for me. They told me that I should transfer schools. They told me that if I stayed I could hurt my chances at getting recruited and playing in the NBA. They basically told me that — if I didn’t quit and leave — my future could be at risk. It was scary.

I talked a lot with my mom and we made a decision. We decided to fight.

Not to quit.

I got cut, so what? I’ll prove them all wrong when I try out again as a junior. I trusted the process. My family’s process.

If you get knocked down, you stand back up again. Because that’s how my mom raised me. She taught me and my sister to work hard, be humble and respectful, trust in God … and that things will work out in the end.

But you don’t quit.

Three years later, I was on my way to UW.

Four years later, I’m on my way to Philly.

The way I see it, the Sixers’ process wasn’t too different. They’ve had their haters. They have been losing a bunch the last couple years. But now the energy is changing. You can feel it.

That’s that trust.


Right after my workout, I met with Coach Brown. We had met once before, at the combine in March. I liked his style. At the combine, he asked me a question that no one else had ever really asked me. He gave me an end-of-the-game scenario and asked me to draw up several different plays.

I had forgotten what I’d told him. But when we met again last Friday, he brought the question up. He reminded me what my first response had been: “Are we home or away?”

He said no rookie had ever had that exact response to the question. He said he liked how I thought about the game. And for me, I was happy that he was as interested in my mind as in my handle.

We talked more about strategy and basketball philosophy and things like that.

But the most important thing that came out of our meeting was that my mom liked Coach. The next day she told me that she had a good feeling about him because it seemed like he really cared about developing his players. He had told her that he really believes in his players.

And my mom believed him.

Sam Maller/The Players' Tribune

I know a lot of people have beat up on Philly because the team hasn’t been winning a lot. But Coach Brown seems like he believes in growth and development for his players. And when you have that from a coach, it makes the players wanna work that much harder I think.

I’m not going to make a ton of promises right now. I just want to tell you a little about what to expect from me.

I’m coming to Philly to work. I’m coming to be part of the team. I’m coming to add more life to The Process. I’m going to have a rookie mentality — above no one, below no one.

Basically, I’m coming to give everything I have of myself. I have trust that everything else will work out.

Right, Joel?