This offseason has been filled with Mike Scott guest appearances and Ben Simmons workout videos. While Scott and Simmons have been in the public eye we wonder, where is Joel Embiid? Why haven’t we heard anything? Is he working out or sipping Shirley Temples in his study?
Joel Embiid has had questions about his diet in the past. His love of Chick-fil-A is well documented, we also wonder how he feels about the new Popeye’s chicken sandwich. During the playoffs this past season, some questioned if that affected his conditioning, and it was a fair question. Fast food is not exactly the best fuel for the human body.
Joel Embiid also has suffered from nagging injury issues in his time in the NBA. While obviously not caused directly by food, one could easily say that it doesn’t help him and his body. We see more and more players changing their food intake to prolong careers and maximize their ability. Embiid is in an interesting position as most of the current stars in the NBA are guards, who rely on quickness and endurance. While all players would hope for these qualities, Embiid is most effective using his impressive strength to bully defenders. While he could eat higher quality food, he still needs to keep his caloric intake high.
In spite of his accused dietary faults, we also know Embiid is a fierce competitor. over the few years since he played for Kansas, Embiid has transformed his body into a Shaq-Esque wonder. In off-seasons past, we’ve seen Embiid in his own workout videos. This offseason though, next to nothing. While we did see a quick video last month of Embiid shooting, it lasted only moments. So where is he?
The short answer is training, apparently. Embiid has been working with NBA “shot guru” Drew Hanlen. Not exactly what Sixer fans would like to hear as he is the same “guru” who sold us on Markelle Fultz. Is Embiid training exclusively with Hanlen though? I highly doubt it. I trust Embiid is self-aware enough to realize conditioning and availability are the two key factors to elevating his game.
Everyone (including myself obviously) feels the need to tell an athlete how to do their job, that’s part of fandom. After the Game 7 loss to the Toronto Raptors, Embiid may have taken the message of his critics to heart. Per Sixers partner Michael Rubin, Embiid has cleaned up his diet significantly and has placed an emphasis on his conditioning.
Rubin goes on to mention that Embiid is “determined’ and “on a mission” in regards to the upcoming season. What mission is Embiid on? MVP? Defensive Player of the Year? or his he coming to lead his team to victory in the NBA Finals? Why not all three.
Athletes are always criticized for not doing what the fans and media think they should do. By keeping his name out of the headlines, Embiid is ensuring his ability to focus on the upcoming season. I know Embiid will come back this season looking to dominate the game beyond what he has already accomplished. He is taking the steps necessary to become the all-time great we know he can be.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports