It’s pretty hard for Philadelphia’s three other professional sports teams to usurp the Eagles. Unless the 76ers, Flyers or Phillies are on championship runs, the Birds rule the day and always will.
Hard to argue though that a good chunk of that domination will dwindle if the most recognizable sports figure in America takes his talents to the City of Brotherly Love.
Regardless of the pitch made to this transcendent figure or the promise shown by the 76ers young core, the only person who knows if he’s coming to Philadelphia is LeBron James himself. What you’re about to read may be legitimate signs. It may also be big time smoke blown up your you know what.
None the less, conversation about James joining the Sixers never seemed more plausible. It’s real. It’s not far fetched. It’s no longer a pipe dream. You won’t be asked to provide a sampling in a cup. This topic is worth your attention.
A Philadelphia business purchased three billboards in Ohio recruiting “King James,” which the 33-year-old said he was flattered by, referring to the interest in him as “dope.”
"It's actually very flattering that I'm sitting here at 33 in my 15th year & people in their respective cities want me to play for them."
— Pat Chiesa (@PatChiesa) February 27, 2018
In addition to that, kudos to Fox Sports One’s Jason Whitlock who remembered that in early February, James became annoyed with reporters when talking about the potential to leave Cleveland.
“I don’t think this is the right thing to be saying… This to me is an indication [LeBron] has given up on his team already.” — @WhitlockJason on LeBron saying he's flattered by billboards recruiting him to the 76ers pic.twitter.com/oNGsfBN0yc
— Speak For Yourself (@SFY) February 27, 2018
And NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Alaa Abdenalby reported after the Miami Heat loss that James was recently in the Philadelphia area checking out private schools for his kid.
All of this may mean nothing.
But James leaving his hometown, again, and coming to Philadelphia hinges on three things, from least to most important.
First, the Sixers need to make some noise in the playoffs by at least being competitive in the first round. Preferably, they advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals. I’d guess that money isn’t as important to James at this point in his career. The three-time champion wants more rings. The Sixers can show they’re capable of taking the step to elite by showing they’re capable of winning four out of seven against one team. That path is easiest by being at least the four or five seed. Might not even hurt to be No. 6 and upset James and the Cavs in round one, which leads to the second point.
How the Cavaliers finish 2017-18 is even more important than what the 76ers do. James may feel uncomfortable with abandoning his fellow Ohioans. An outsider can speculate though he won’t feel sad about saying too-ta-loo to Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert. If James doesn’t feel the Cavs possess a strong chance in the future to compete a for a title every year, that increases the 15-year vet’s chances to leave home again, just like he did the first time when going to Miami.
Neither of these two previous outcomes matter though if James himself doesn’t want to leave Northeast Ohio for a second time. In all fairness to the four-time MVP, there is no greater ambassador of the sport and role model for kids than James. But, he’s not one to avoid creating drama as it’s wildly believed that what “King James” wants in Cleveland, he gets. It’s very possible these little flirtations are him just messing with the Philadelphia fan base because he was in a good mood and felt like having fun. James could very well vehemently downplay everything going forward.
Either way, it’s worth dreaming that James could be donning Sixers blue in the not too distant future.
Before the Eagles won the Super Bowl, Philadelphia professional sports went 20 combined seasons without advancing in the playoffs.
Oh, how far the city is coming.
I’m predicting Nick Foles won’t be an Eagle next season
The impression I got from Howie Roseman’s and Doug Pederson’s NFL Combine media sessions were not encouraging for those, like myself, who think the Eagles need to keep Foles for the 2018 season.
Despite Roseman saying this quarterback room is exactly what they’re looking for and they want to keep their best players, he also left the door open to moving Foles by saying the team has a lot of areas that need to be addressed. Pederson mentioned how they’ll talk with Foles about his preferences. And most telling of all, Roseman suggested Nate Sudfeld is talented enough to be a starter one day, obviously not with Carson Wentz around, but just in general.
Again, this could very well be Roseman and Pederson not showing their hand with other teams, which is smart. But, regardless of whether Wentz is ready come Week 1, I’d no longer be shocked if Foles was dealt for draft picks or a significant player of need for the Birds.
Maybe my opinion will change. There’s still a lot of off-season to go.
Before I forget…
• Joel Embiid was spotted eating a burger on the trainer’s table about within hours of losing to the Washington Wizards, snapping the Sixers’ seven-game winning streak. Is this part of the 76ers Medical Team’s nutritional guideline? Did Embiid down it with a Shirley Temple?
• Losing to the Wizards was understandable considering it was part two of a back-to-back. Falling to the Miami Heat when leading by 10 with nine minutes to go, in addition to the way the game transpired in the final minute was unacceptable. Ben Simmons must make his free throws. Both of them. Period. Expect more “Hack-a-Ben’s” the rest of the way.
• Markelle Fultz actually looks decent shooting a basketball now.
Markelle Fultz pregame: pic.twitter.com/5OmVYaauzf
— Jessica Camerato (@JCameratoNBCS) February 25, 2018
It’s about time, though, the Sixers gave another update, let the top overall pick talk to local media or just shut him down because these videos are really annoying. Not to mention, as I’ve said before, the longer he’s not ruled out, the more it will be a distraction for the 76ers’ playoff push.
• I like that the Sixers are adding Ersan Ilyasova. It gives them another shooter down the stretch. Nonetheless, Bryan Colangelo waived Trevor Booker, who he dealt a second round pick to the Brooklyn Nets for along with Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas. I can picture all the “Hinkie-ites” pulling their hair out. And you know what, this is a rare instance where I agree with them. Good thing this young team is fun and compelling, because otherwise they remain frustrating.
• New and progressive Phillies manager Gabe Kapler did something very unique in Tuesday’s spring training loss to the Tigers. He switched corner outfielders Tommy Joseph (not a typo) and Collin Cowgill for one at bat to put the better fielding Cowgill in left against a hitter more susceptible to hit it that way. Kapler also did this according to The Athletic’s Matt Gelb.
This was the outfield alignment on a righthanded hitter. He hit it down the left-field line. pic.twitter.com/lxJVYcthrS
— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) February 27, 2018
Hard to argue the Phils will be boring this season.
• By the way, talk show host Larry King thinks the Phillies will do well in 2018.
— Larry King (@kingsthings) February 28, 2018
We just got done February and this Phillies season is the weirdest I can remember. Be Bold.
• More than once when the Flyers were struggling and inconsistent, I often describe their play as “yawn.” Not the case anymore. They could end up winning the Metropolitan Division, which would put them in great position for a potentially deep playoff run. I can’t believe I’m writing this, Dave Hakstol is doing a great job.
• I can’t believe I’m writing this, either. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock in his annual pre-draft conference call said Howie Roseman’s last two years belong in the “General Manager’s Hall of Fame.” Mayock is correct and I never thought Roseman was capable of such excellence. Truth is, Roseman and Pederson taught all of us the past two seasons that everyone deserves a chance and you can’t make assumptions. Roseman knows what he is doing, even if sometimes he tries to make a corny joke or two. He gets a pass for now as defending Super Bowl Champ.
• Former Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson called ex head coach Chip Kelly a “weirdo.” I’d be mad, too, if someone cut me from a team four years away from winning the Lombardi Trophy.
• Speaking of winning the Super Bowl, I’ll close with this. Congratulations to Donnie Jones for ending his great 14-year career on top. “Donnie Longball” was a great punter for the Eagles who you never needed to worry about. Roseman and company are left with big shoes to fill, literally.