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That time Joel Embiid guilted the 76ers’ ownership into paying its employees in full

Yesterday, on day No. 13 without basketball, or anything, really, we all witnessed the power of two formidable entities: Joel Embiid and Twitter-shaming.

To recap...

  • On Monday night, Marc Stein reported that billionaire Josh Harris, whose company owns both the 76ers and the New Jersey Devils, was going to cut the salaries of “at-will” team workers making $50,000 or more by up to 20 percent. 

  • At noon yesterday, Woj reported that, while only at-will employees will be forced to accept the paycut, the ownership group was looking for volunteers among contract workers to accept the 20 percent reduction, as well, which also sounds like an apt description of hell. 

By Tuesday morning, Harris’s net worth -- around $3.9 billion, according to Forbes -- was a trending topic on Twitter. So was the fact that Harris’s group bought the 76ers, now worth around $2 billion, for only $280 million in 2011. Then came Embiid’s announcement, via Ramona Shelburne, also Tuesday at noon:

“Philadelphia 76ers star (Joel Embiid) has decided to pledge $500K to COVID-19 medical relief -- to help survival and protection efforts in the community. AND he’s committed to helping Sixers employees who will suffer financial hardship in light of the franchise’s salary reductions.”

The optics of this were a PR disaster -- a generous millionaire stepping in to bailout his greedy billionaire bosses. And so, two hours later, Harris and his crew of pinky-sipping money hogs issued this statement:

“As part of an effort to do that we asked salaried employees to take a temporary 20% pay cut while preserving everyone’s full benefits -- and keeping our 1,500 hourly workers paid throughout the regular season. After listening to our staff and players, it’s clear that was the wrong decision. We have reversed it and will be paying these employees their full salaries. This is an extraordinary time in our world -- unlike any most of us have ever lived through before -- and ordinary business decisions are not enough to meet the moment. To our staff and fans, I apologize for getting this wrong.”

The best part came in a victory lap tweet from Embiid, who seemed to enjoy the fact that his good will directly forced a billionaire to pretend he had emotions:

“In these trying times, I’m proud of the Sixers organization for reversing course and “doing a 180”. Let’s focus on beating this Coronavirus now. Let’s be responsible and Trust the Process!!”

He’s just as good at social media as he is at being a basketball player. [READ: Josh Harris’ Sixers coronavirus pay cut reversal shows power of collective action]


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