A closer look at the rise of Joel Embiid reveals what makes him so special

Few people embody an era of basketball more than Joel Embiid and the Sixers. The guy who laid claim to the nickname “The Process” has been through the highs and lows with the organization. To start with, he was the first prized draft pick after a 19 win season. Embiid was the first cornerstone player that Hinkie staked his long-term plans in and he has developed into the star the organization hoped he would.

Joel has come a long way from the wide-eyed, youthful kid who was shooting his shot with Rihanna and recruiting LeBron to Philly before he even played a game with the team. After being drafted, Embiid sat out 2 full years with a foot injury stemming from complications with a navicular fracture. The frustrations of losing and desire to get back on the court wore on Embiid just as it frustrated the fan base.

Once he was on the court it has been smooth sailing with the team. Embiid has some of the best footwork of any big man and moves with a nimbleness that should be impossible for his massive frame. He anchors the defense, blocks shots, and demands the ball with the game on the line. While he does most of his damage from the post, Embiid also has a smooth mid-range and solid 3-pointer that makes him close to impossible to stop. He feeds off the boo’s of the Philly faithful and has infectious energy off the court. Joel Embiid is every bit the star that Philly fans could have hoped for and he should be appreciated for who he is.

Persona

Few people have ever spoken badly about Joel Embiid off the basketball court. Whether it be him learning his jump shot by looking up “white guys shooting 3 pointers” or making up stories of killing a lion as a kid in Cameroon, the anecdotes about Joel are hilarious. He is much more like the class clown than the driven leader of the team, but this should not be confused for his lack of passion whatsoever.

Embiid wears his heart on his sleeve and lets his emotions show constantly. Whether this is crying after the raptors game or jumping around celebrating a late-game basket, you never have to guess what is going through the big man’s mind. Embiid has been known to mix it up on the court and on social media throughout his career. His beefs with Karl Anthony-Towns, Lonzo Ball, Andre Drummond, and Hassan Whiteside have all been well-documented and are a pleasant change to what has become such a buddy-buddy league.

Joel has matured greatly since he first came into the league. From his early days of passing on the strict diet set by the Sixers by eating fast-food and Shirley Temples to dancing around at a Meek Mill concert when he was out with his foot injury, Embiid has grown in a major way. This improvement in maturity has been something Embiid has spoken about himself at the conclusion of each year as well. While he will always be good for an occasional twitter troll, it is all in good fun. This should be in no way confused with his mentality on the court. As “The Process” himself has said, “My life is a movie.”

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Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire

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