“I’m starting – I feel like I haven’t been having fun, but I’m starting to really have fun.” – Joel Embiid
After a shaky win over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night, Joel Embiid remarked to Serena Winters about his mentality in recent times. Of course, Sixers Twitter took to it immediately, suggesting that these comments after a Butler-less game might mean he doesn’t want to play with Butler.
I don’t think that’s true.
Of course, Embiid’s other comments came up immediately. Recently, he remarked that he doesn’t want to shoot 3 pointers (Kevin Kinkead, Crossing Broad). I don’t think they’re connected. If anything, those quotes sound more like they take issues with the bench or Ben Simmons. (And we can lay that take to rest, according to Jackson Frank’s wing story.)
The Joel Embiid Story
You can’t forget how Joel got here when talking about his mentality. Joel “not having fun” makes a lot of sense, and it has nothing to do with his teammates. Consider his journey: for two years, he sat on the bench and watched the Sixers lose game after game. At that time, everything Embiid wanted was to get on the hardwood, while eggs on Twitter bombarded him with Greg Oden comparisons, telling him he would never play in the NBA.
Until he did.
Joel dominated the second he hit the court. He was a media darling. Everyone was talking about the new star who was commanding Rookie of the Year hype and All-Star hype in his first active season. The hype was no different last year, as he broke out as a true superstar with regular playing time. The media was all over the Sixers as a threat to come out of the East. Embiid announced his ambitions for Defensive Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player.
Getting to Work
Everything is different this year. Joel is finally an every-night player, and his dream job has become, well, his job. Joel is finding the grind of the NBA season and the MVP campaign. He’s constantly doubled, and has to work harder than ever for his buckets. Beyond that, Joel has been trying to act more professional, toning down his famous Instagram trolling and Twitter fingers. He’s not even talking as much trash anymore. That’s really the point of all this – Embiid is transitioning from a mentality of youthful exuberance and is starting to settle into the life of an NBA vet. But it’s starting again – just look at this bizarre dunk from last night. Who else does this? Nobody – except Joel Embiid. Let’s have some fun.