Joel Embiid showed up to Philadelphia 76ers Media Day wearing a Red October beanie hat in support of what everyone hopes is a long postseason run for the city’s professional baseball team. Perhaps, for those wearing rose-tinted glasses, the reigning NBA MVP was sending a subliminal message about his expectations for the Sixers this year.
Embiid addressed a variety of topics ahead of the Sixers starting their first training camp under new head coach Nick Nurse. He seemed genuinely excited and optimistic, a far cry from the sarcastic troll he has been painted to be on social media. The 29-year-old stated repeatedly he remains committed to bringing a championship to the City of Brotherly Love, adding that the uncertainty of the James Harden situation doesn’t change anything. Other guys will have to step up, mainly Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris, and morale is high in the locker room.
“I believe it’s unfortunate what has been going on but the goal is to be together and try to win a championship,” Embiid told reporters. “As far as myself, that’s all I’m focused on. I just want to win. Whatever it takes. And whatever puts us in a position as an organization and as myself that’s all I care about.”
Joel Embiid Uncensored: ‘I’m Here in Philly, I Love Philly’
Joel Embiid made headlines back in July when he appeared to raise questions about his future in Philadelphia. When addressing the possibility of winning a title, the 7-footer let it slip that maybe he would be leading a victory parade in another city: “I don’t know where that’s gonna be, whether it’s in Philly or anywhere else, I just want to have a chance to accomplish that.”
On Monday, Embiid clarified those comments and (hopefully) put them to rest. Well, for now.
“It’s all about consistency. If every year it’s going to be the same thing then that doesn’t push you closer to winning a championship so that gets frustrating,” Embiid said. “But I also believe that, like I said, it doesn’t matter who is on the team. I’m always going to believe that I have a chance to win, so it’s all up to me really … to just go out there and do whatever it takes to win. And I’m here in Philly. I love Philly. I’ve been here my whole career.
“It’s all about winning a championship, mostly, really, if I gotta be honest … if we were to win a championship, it would be for the city and the fans because they deserve it. You know, going through the Process years and the disappointments, I don’t think anyone wants to go back to that era of basketball, where you have no shot of winning, but when you got a bunch of good players on the basketball team, anything can happen.”
That viral tweet
Then, Embiid explained the meaning behind his viral tweet following the Jrue Holiday and Damian Lillard trades. He wasn’t poking fun at the Sixers’ front office or calling them out for not making any major moves this offseason.
“I thought it was fun,” Embiid said of the offseason. “Just saying the interaction around the league with guys getting traded left and right, teams getting better and better, making it tougher for every other team. I thought it was fun just looking at the back-and-forth between fans … you know, you got Miami fans that are mad and Milwaukee fans that are happy.
And now you got Boston fans that are happy so that’s what I saw and I thought it was just fun just seeing whatever was going on … on a personal level, getting married was cool, the honeymoon, it was fun — spending time with my family was fun. For me, it was an A+ summer. We had a lot of fun.”
Joel Embiid on Playing in the Olympics
“I have three options (Cameroon, France, USA). My goal is to play in the Olympics. I love all three options … it is a tough choice, but I’m probably going to make that decision in the next few days.”
Joel Embiid on Pressuring the Front Office for Input
“I mean it’s tricky. I believe it can go both ways. I think I’m pretty smart most of the time, too. You can have guys wanting one thing and it might not be good for the team. So these guys, they get paid to make those decisions, so that’s why I leave it up to them and if they want my opinion, then I give it but I trust them to just go out and make it happen.”
Joel Embiid on the State of the Eastern Conference
“Who said they surpassed us? We still gotta go out there and compete. You can do whatever you want off the court, but you still gotta go out there and put the ball in the hoop. I believe any team I’m on can win.”
*Editor’s note: The Celtics added Jrue Holiday. The Bucks added Damian Lillard.
AP Photo/Steven Senne