“MJ Wanted That Smoke”: Deion Sanders Gives Joel Embiid’s 76ers A Crucial Michael Jordan Lesson As James Harden Misses Out On Important Meeting

Published 10/04/2023, 11:22 AM EDT

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The Philadelphia 76ers have started the training camp, however, without their star guard in attendance. After missing the media day, James Harden was a no-show at the first of the training camp held at the Colorado State Rams facility. However, not only did he miss the training, but he also missed out on the opportunity to interact with the Colorado Buffaloes’ head coach, Deion Sanders. Coach Prime used this opportunity to share an important lesson with Joel Embiid and his Philadelphia 76ers team, using Michael Jordan’s example.

Deion Sanders shares an important message

The 76ers roster gathered for a dinner with Coach Prime after their workout in Fort Collins. Sanders greeted the team warmly as they entered the restaurant. However, given James Harden’s absence from the inaugural practice, he used the example of the Chicago Bulls legend to discuss the importance of showing up and fighting for what you want.


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He first spoke about how, when he was growing up, legendary players like MJ wanted to compete and play at the highest level. They were not missing games and engaging in petty fights, but were showing up each day on the court to prove their worth. “When we came up, MJ wanted that smoke. He wasn’t ducking. Whoever was that dude, he was going to get. That’s the era I came up with,” said Coach Prime.


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However, after not being able to land a deal the entire off-season, it looks like Harden is ready to return to Philly. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the 10x NBA All-Star is expected to return to the practice on Tuesday. Even though Harden wanted to don the Clippers jersey, no deal is imminent since the Clippers do not have any valuable assets that Philly might be interested in. We have all seen what a disgruntled James Harden can do on the floor. So, hopefully, the team will be able to find a middle ground before the actual season starts.

Deion Sanders wants to see Embiid vs. Jokic


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While on the topic of ducking games, Sanders dragged in Joel Embiid and challenged him to actually play against Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic. The reigning MVP missed last year’s matchup against Jokic, citing a calf injury. However, the football coach really wants the 76er to take up the challenge and compete against big man Jokic.

Sanders said, “A lot of folks duck that smoke. They wanna be Tarzan on paper. Don’t sell me the game that this is what I’m gonna get, but when I turn on the TV, I don’t get that. I don’t like that. If Embiid is playing the Joker, I want to see Embiid versus the Joker. Alright, I want to see that, and he goes and gets it. I love that matchup, but I wanna see it.” However, Embiid missing the game did not hurt his MVP chances, as he successfully clinched his first MVP honor last season.


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With all the drama surrounding James Harden, it is difficult to predict how the season will turn out for Philly. On the other hand, the Nuggets are all geared up to defend the title this season. Nonetheless, we are definitely in for an exciting matchup between the two teams during the regular season.

Watch this story:  After Ditching 76ers’ Media Day, $165M Rich James Harden Set to Be Slapped With a Hefty 6-Figure Fine


Written by:

Darshita Daga


One take at a time

Darshita Daga is an NBA Writer at EssentiallySports. Currently pursuing Bachelor’s in English, she’s a fervent sports enthusiast with a keen interest in sports journalism, specifically covering the NBA. She feels that words have the potential to capture the spirit of a game, evaluate moves, and portray the emotions that occur both on and off the court.
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Edited by:

Saumya Khanduja