CAMDEN, N.J. -- Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid did not rest this weekend, following the first back-to-back games of his NBA career. He went to the Super Bowl in Minneapolis, where the Philadelphia Eagles upset the defending champion New England Patriots 41-33 Sunday night.
And although he enjoyed his time in Minnesota with teammate Justin Anderson, Embiid said he would have liked to celebrate in Philadelphia like the rest of the citizens on Broad Street.
"It was insane," Embiid said of videos that surfaced of Eagles fans celebrating the first Super Bowl victory in franchise history. "I mean, I wish I was in town. I would have been jumping over cars and doing the same thing they were doing. But I saw the videos. It was amazing."
Following a Friday night victory at home over the Miami Heat, Embiid started against the Indiana Pacers on the road Saturday. The 76ers lost 100-92, with Embiid mixing a game-high 24 points with a game-high seven turnovers. Anderson explained that he and Embiid wanted to take the opportunity to get to a Super Bowl, never a guarantee for an NBA player.
"As soon as we landed there after the Indiana game, Jo [Embiid] and I talked about it and said, 'You know, we lost the game and we didn't play well, but it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us.' Especially being NBA players, it's hard to get to Super Bowls," Anderson said. "So we just wanted to erase that, erase that day, and just soak up every single moment and enjoy the moment. It was cool."
"It was amazing, amazing experience" added Embiid, who is set to start in his first All-Star Game this month. "Wanted to go out there and see what it's like, and I enjoyed it."
Anderson said that he and Embiid did not get back to Philadelphia until 3 a.m. ET. "We flew out after, but the way that the runways were working and how cold it was, we couldn't get off," Anderson said, adding that the players flew charter, not commercial.
Embiid, known for his engaging social media profile and for being a man of the people even in the streets of Philadelphia, reveled in his role as just a regular fan during the event, even crashing a local broadcast spot after the game was over.
"I always think about myself as like a regular person, I want to be able to enjoy everything. I'm only 23," Embiid said. "I'm able to connect with the fans and I feel like we have a good relationship with the city. So sometimes I feel bad because I can take pictures, and sometimes I can't. So sometimes I feel bad, but like I said, I just want to be a regular human being and enjoy it all."
Sixers coach Brett Brown, the longest-tenured coach of Philadelphia's four major sports teams at five seasons, had high praise for Eagles coach Doug Pederson.
"It's just an amazing story of perseverance, it's an amazing story I think of belief," said Brown, whose Sixers sit at 25-25 and in eighth place in the Eastern Conference. "I've got lots of time following Coach Pederson from afar and how he's handled, with tremendous grace, his situation. And how he's able to lead them to a Super Bowl. You pay attention to, sort of the injury to [starting quarterback] Carson [Wentz], and how they're going to respond, either with [backup quarterback] [Nick] Foles or the rest of the team. And it's a helluva story, really, one of the great stories that I've been a part of in pro sport, to come from where they were to a Super Bowl. That's a privileged story."
Brown added that he texted members of his team throughout the Super Bowl and spoke with them about the win by the Eagles ahead of practice -- and wants to think about the 76ers being in a similar atmosphere.
"Our fan base is very unique in pro sport," Brown said. "And to envisage what a Wells Fargo [Center] would look like during the playoffs, it gets us all going."
In addition to inspiration from the Eagles' Super Bowl run, Brown also has to keep his team focused with the trade deadline coming up on Thursday. When asked about how he can do that, Brown hedged by discussing the team's five-game homestand ahead of the All-Star break that starts Tuesday against the Washington Wizards.
"People who know what they want have a far greater chance of achieving it," Brown said. "We want to be a playoff team. And in all my 17 years doing this, I've never had five home games prior to an All-Star break. And we want to capitalize on that. ... There will be people on teams, their minds will be in Bermuda. I want ours in the Wells Fargo building here in this city. We know what we want, to be a playoff team. And we have a chance, in the next five home games, to make some ground and not play catch up after the All-Star break.
"That's the messaging that lets me avoid -- and not on purpose, just because I don't see it that way -- free-agent stuff. That's that office; my office is this office," Brown said, pointing to the practice court as his workplace, as opposed to a corner office. "That's how I see the world right now, and it's easy and comes out of my mouth freely, on what I think our purpose should be prior to the All-Star break."