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October 10, 2017

It will be illegal to watch Joel Embiid's preseason debut in Philadelphia

Sixers NBA

The news of Joel Embiid's big, new contract is more important long-term, but Sixers fans got a bit more immediate gratification Tuesday morning when it was announced the young center was likely to make his hotly-anticipated debut on Wednesday. The wait was officially over.

But the brief celebration was short-lived, and if you live in the Philadelphia area, you're going to have to wait until at least Friday, and likely longer to be able to watch the team's new $148 million man play basketball.

Preseason basketball is pretty low on the totem pole for local networks, and not even the excitement surrounding the Sixers was enough for NBC Sports Philadelphia to justify televising all five preseason games, apparently. They had their full crew on hand for the team's home games against Boston and Memphis, but Sixers fans were subjected to the Boston affiliate on Monday night, forced to listen to four quarters of Terry Rozier praise.

That's at least more than Sixers fans will be offered for the last two preseason games. Embiid's likely debut in Philadelphia will not be broadcast on TV in Philadelphia, and this offered hope that League Pass subscribers could avoid local blackout rules and watch the game online. After all, the game will be broadcast on Brooklyn's local affiliate, YES Network.

But even if you pay the hefty $200 annual fee for NBA League Pass, their support staff claims you will be unable to (legally) watch the game in the Philadelphia area.

The same will also be true, evidently, for Friday's game against the Miami Heat in Kansas City. The exhibition game will take place just an hour's drive from Embiid's old stomping grounds at Kansas University, but the homecoming was not on the radar for the NBC Sports Philadelphia team. Once again, League Pass is not an option either, though their support staff thinks you should ignore this fact since the regular season is around the corner.

PhillyVoice reached out to reps at NBC Sports Philadelphia for comment on whether there would be a change of plans based on Embiid's availability. A representative for NBCSP told us it was unlikely Wednesday's game would be broadcast locally—though the situation is allegedly fluid—and confirmed there will definitely be no broadcast for Friday's game in Kansas City.

So what's an anxious Sixers fan to do? Luckily, Wednesday's game isn't too far away, scheduled to be played at The New Coliseum in Uniondale, NY. That's about a six-hour drive roundtrip, with tickets available on StubHub for as low as $17 each. Factoring in gas (we'll say $20 total), parking passes (being sold for an outrageous $45 on StubHub), and minimal concessions at the game (let's say $20 a head for a beer and food), it'll cost you and a buddy in the neighborhood of $139 to make the pilgrimage to see Embiid's debut.

If you want to get more adventurous and catch the game in Kansas City on Friday, you better have some spare change laying around, or a willingness to go through a hellish travel day. You can book a trip out of Philadelphia at 6:30 a.m. on Friday, which would take you to a connecting flight out of O'Hare Airport in Chicago, eventually placing you in Kansas City around 10:30 a.m. local time. We'll skip on the hotel since you have a 5:50 departing flight Saturday morning, bringing your flight grand total to $780 before you spend a dime on tickets, food, Ubers from the airport, or anything else.

For the rest of us schlubs, well, we'll just have to keep waiting until the regular season for a legal way to watch Embiid play basketball. Too bad. 

UPDATE [3:50 p.m.]: NBC Sports Philly has announced that they will broadcast Wednesday night's game against the Nets. More.