Courtside seats at an NBA game, where the beautiful people (or at least the very rich and well-connected) like to see and be seen, can be a dangerous place. Just ask actress Regina King or comedian Tracy Morgan, who nearly were collateral damage as Joel Embiid barreled toward the sideline during the Philadelphia 76ers’ game against the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.
King and Morgan were in the first row by the scorer’s table at Madison Square Garden when Embiid brought all 7 feet, 200-plus pounds of his body thundering toward them in pursuit of a loose ball in the third quarter. With an assist from brave MSG Network statistician Dave Fried and Embiid’s reflexive leap, disaster was headed off.
“Yoooo. Thank you God and @JoelEmbiid for your athletic abilities,” King, who is nominated for an Oscar for her performance in “If Beale Street Could Talk,” tweeted. “Crisis averted.”
Embiid took credit for saving the actress (and comedian), but tipped his hat to Fried. “It’s good that I saved her life, I guess, but someone else had to, like, take that,” Embiid said (via ESPN). “I’m sorry about that.”
During an interview with MSG Network’s Rebecca Haarlow, Embiid told Fried, “I’m so sorry,” shaking his hand. “It’s okay. I’m all right,” Fried told Embiid.
“First of all, I shouldn’t have done that,” Embiid said of his feet-first flight into the seats. “This was a regular-season game and I think at that point we were up by 10 or so [15 actually], so that’s my fault. Maybe next time I do that, I shouldn’t try to land with my feet first. I’m so sorry.”
Fried said he’s “never had that large a human” coming in for a landing, although he was run over by Robert Pack “20 years ago” and was taken out “once or twice” by Charles Oakley.
"As soon as [Embiid] was coming, I said, ‘Oh, no,’ ” Fried told Haarlow. “You know what was going to happen and there was nothing I could do. It hurt for a second. He made sure to miss Regina King, which was pretty good on his part, but I’m okay.”
Embiid admitted he hadn’t done something like that since his college days and his teammate Ben Simmons said of Fried, “I know he’s going to feel it tomorrow.”
The Sixers went on to a 126-111 victory and Coach Brett Brown admitted that he wasn’t thrilled to see Embiid heading for the expensive seats.
“Just like I’m sure our owners were thinking, and our fans back home in Philadelphia were thinking, you respect his aggression, you respect his passion but you don’t want that,” Brown said (via NBC Sports Philadelphia). “I say that out of love and care. It came after a turnover and he’s jumping into the stands. It’s something you hope to avoid.”
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