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Embiid has a fine night, plays alongside Jokic in mostly forgettable All-Star Game

This was not the finest All-Star Game in NBA history, but Joel Embiid acquitted himself nicely and seemed to have fun.

2023 NBA All-Star - NBA All-Star Game Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Even for an NBA All-Star Game, Sunday night’s display was a rough watch. Normally, guys will turn on the switch and make things competitive, but that never really happened. It was basically a dunk and three-point contest in a game setting.

But it was a solid night in Salt Lake City for the Sixers’ lone All-Star Joel Embiid.

We weren’t even sure Embiid was going to participate in Sunday’s game — some would argue that maybe he shouldn’t have while dealing with a sore left foot that has made him questionable for every game over the last month or so. Embiid didn’t even make it to Salt Lake City until the day of the game, missing the media availabilities and Mac McClung stealing the show at the dunk contest.

The funniest part of the night was probably the new live draft where Embiid was the first starter picked by team captain LeBron James. So, to recap: Embiid went from not starting, to starting, to being the first starter selected. Makes sense.

Embiid’s reaction was priceless.

You have to imagine it did feel good for Embiid to be taken first and be recognized by one of the greatest players of all time in that way.

An ever more fun wrinkle is that two-time MVP Nikola Jokic also wound up on Team LeBron. I have to admit, watching the two superstar bigs play together was actually quite a bit of fun.

The pair seemed to really enjoy playing with each other. It is cool that for all the online discourse and how ugly the debates get that Embiid and Jokic have such profound respect for one another.

Your mind does wander, imagining the possibility of two big men as skilled and talented as these two playing in an NBA game together. Jokic was asked about that exact hypothetical.

Very much enjoyed that wink by Jokic at the end.

Could you imagine it? After all the ugly discourse and how much stock we all put into these guys vying for MVPs if they ever joined forces? However unlikely, I have a hunch it would work out slightly better than the Embiid-Al Horford pairing.

The big fella also had fun with Team LeBron teammate Luka Doncic. You can’t help but wonder how much tampering gets done at these games. Maybe that’s the real reason Embiid went (mostly kidding, please don’t take anymore second-round picks from the Sixers, Adam).

Team Giannis won. Jayson Tatum scored a lot of points and won MVP. Yawn.

The biggest winners here are the Sixers because Embiid left the game unscathed. He finished with 32 points, six rebounds and four assists.

And we all win later this week when real NBA basketball returns. The Sixers host the Grizzlies in what should be a fun matchup this Thursday (7:30 p.m. on TNT) when both teams return from the break.

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