How a Philly basketball legend who helped raise Kobe Bryant keeps Joel Embiid focused


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PHILADELPHIA – A man named Sonny Hill – a basketball legend in Philadelphia – sits in a chair next to Joel Embiid’s stall inside the Philadelphia 76ers’ locker room.

After most Sixers home games, Hill holds a box score, and he and Embiid engage in conversation.

“It’s just private conversations,” Hill told USA TODAY after a recent playoff game. “It’s not all basketball. It’s life. Just being there at a time when things are not going well. See, a lot of people will be around you when things are going well. But not many people are going to be around when things are not going well.”

It’s not going well for Embiid right now. He has not been at his best in the conference semifinals against Toronto, feeling under the weather with some kind of bug. He battled gastroenteritis in Game 2, and texted coach Brett Brown the morning of Game 4 on Sunday, saying he hadn’t slept all night because he wasn’t feeling well. He had just 11 points on seven shots.

“I’m just not myself,”…

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