On Wednesday, Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid hit his 10,000th career point. Since his debut with the Sixers in 2016 until now, Embiid’s growth as one of the most dominant players in the NBA is nothing short of spectacular. To celebrate, let’s take a look at five of the greatest buckets of his career.
5. Go-ahead Game Winner vs. Denver Nuggets, January 2023
Perhaps a bit of recency bias, but it’s hard not to be absolutely wowed by the statement Embiid made during the Sixers’ most recent matchup against the Denver Nuggets. His 47-point masterclass – against the man who was named MVP over him twice in a row – came just days after it was revealed that Embiid would not be a starting All-Star for the first time in his playing career. As always, though, Embiid took the disrespect as an opportunity to improve and show the world what he’s made of. He did just that with this unreal phenomenal game-winning three-point shot.
4. Alley-Oop off the Backboard vs. Brooklyn Nets, November 2018
This is one of those plays that you just don’t forget once you see it. After shaking off Jared Dudley (remember that guy!?) like a bad case of fleas, Embiid looked like he would go straight to the rim. But with three other defenders around the basket and Mike Scott and Wilson Chandler basically turning into statues on the outside of the paint, Embiid made a whip-smart decision to use his size to his advantage. He finger-rolled the ball off the backboard before jumping to slam it back down, effectively alley-ooping himself in a play that’s since stood in his career highlights.
3. The Poster Dunk vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, February 2022.
If you start to Google “Joel Embiid dunk,” one of the first suggestions to come up is “over Jarrett Allen.” You know the one. We’ve all seen THAT photo. After Allen fouled him, Embiid made the first of his two free throws but missed the second – Allen got the ball back but quickly lost control to Sixers’ small forward Georges Niang. It happened so quickly that Embiid was still open – and when Niang bounced the ball back to him, Embiid exploded to the rim, trapping Allen between his legs, and smacked down perhaps the nastiest dunk of the entire season.
It was an incredible play, but the photo holds another level of significance. Jarrett Allen is one of the few players in this league who can match Embiid’s size and athleticism and give him some trouble while guarding him 1-on-1. For Joel to absolutely posterize him – and make it look easy with a smudge of irritation on his face – is indisputable proof of his unstoppable dominance. If Allen can’t guard him, who the heck can?
2. 59th Point vs. Utah Jazz, November 2022
One of the most important shots of Joel Embiid’s career wasn’t a sharpshooter three, a gravity-defying dunk, or even one of his signature mid-range step-backs. In fact, it was a simple free throw – but one that would put Embiid’s name in the history books for years to come, as he scored a career-high 59 points.
That was good for the fifth-most points ever scored by a Sixer and the most points since Allen Iverson dropped 60 on the Orlando Magic in 2005. And while the record-breaker was the headline that night, we can’t forget that his stat line was completed with 11 rebounds, eight assists, and seven (!!!) blocks. A stat line straight out of a 2K game, it was one of the most dominant performances in NBA history.
1. Embiid’s Game 3 winner against Toronto, April 2022.
Every sports fan has a few “where were you when?” moments in their life. Those seemingly impossible plays that, in some way, changed what it meant to be a fan. They’re etched into our brains, and the second you see them live, you can imagine yourself telling your grandkids about the time you saw sports history being made.
That was what it felt like watching on April 20, 2022, when – with just 0.8 seconds left in overtime – Joel Embiid caught the in-bound, turned around, and sunk an unbelievable game-winning 3-point shot in the first round of the 2022 playoffs against the Toronto Raptors.
No matter how many times you watch it, it seems physically impossible in literally less than a second. It nearly defies the laws of physics and is something that most NBA players couldn’t even attempt in time, let alone make the shot, but Joel Hans Embiid is not most NBA players. He’s a force to be reckoned with, and with the quickness of a guard and the size of a center, he’s redefining what’s possible in professional basketball.
Cheers to 10,000 more, Jo. We are all witnesses.