The NBA season is set to resume in the bubble tonight with the Sixers slated to restart the season on Sunday vs. the Pacers. While we patiently wait for Sixers-basketball, The Rights To Ricky Sanchez landed a long-coveted interview with Joel Embiid that released early this morning.
I highly recommend listening for yourself (link below) but if not you can find some of his more interesting quotes below:
On picking his wedgies at the free throw line (the Ricky doesn’t waste time, immediately delivering the hard-hitting content we need):
“It started as a joke… Nadal is known for that, I’m a tennis fan, you know I like Federer, all those guys… Sometimes, you know, we all have those problems, sometimes it happens to happen at the free throw line… I wanna make sure I’m relaxed and comfortable.”
Embiid is one of the most relatable players in the league, and wedgies are a shared experiences that link us all as human beings. It’s worth noting that Nadal’s response to this question in a 2016 GQ interview was simply, “I cannot change,” emphasizing that it’s more of a compulsive habit than a ‘war on wedgies.’ Embiid clearly shares that habit, and here’s to hoping he never changes, as well.
On his outlook of the team heading into the stretch-run and playoffs:
“I’m excited about this year, we got a real chance. I’m sure nobody talks about us as a six seed, but I’ll bet you that none of those teams want to play us.”
On preferred matchups in the playoffs—Celtics, Heat, Pacers:
“Doesn’t matter. We good… We’re pretty confident in ourselves that we can get the job done.”
The Sixers biggest threat to their success is themselves—I know that’s a cliche, but this is a pretty textbook case in that regard. If Philly is playing their best basketball they’ll tar-and-feather their way through the East. Yes, that includes the Bucks (who are clearly maxed out well short of actually contending for the Finals, but that’s another discussion).
On the Kawhi shot:
“You’d think God wanted that shit to go in.”
Divine intervention—works for me!
Mike proceeds to ask Joel a series of five “which was more weird?” Q’s:
- 10-win season OR the Knicks having a better road record in 2020 than the Sixers—Embiid chose the latter, I agree.
- Greg Monroe starting a playoff game OR Ben developing a jumper during the pandemic—Embiid chose to plead the fifth; I honestly think the former was more weird.
- Zhaire’s sesame allergy nearly killing him OR Jahlil Okafor getting into a street fight in Boston—he pled the fifth again; the sesame allergy is no doubt more weird, yet oddly par for the course for this Sixers team.
- Fultz vanishing jump shot OR the Colangelo burner scandal—this almost goes without saying, but Joel chose the burner scandal, it’s the the clear number one on this entire list.
- Fultz breaking Embiid’s face in the playoffs and subsequently having to wear a face mask OR having gastroenteritis during the playoffs (or “butt Covid” as Mike called it)—Embiid went with the latter.
On whether the presence of Simmons impacts his play style, and vice versa
“People say, ‘you always spend a lot of time on the perimeter’—I don’t want to. Then again, I know that the notion of us winning a championship is not going to take me scoring 40 point on the block. It’s going to be a team effort, and I gotta make sure everyone is comfortable.”
This has been the company line for a while, and if you don’t realize at this point that it’s less about making those two fit ‘perfect’ and more about creating a perfect fitting supporting cast around them, then I can’t help you.
Two decades ago, 50 touches on the block would have delivered a championship, and it’s always good to hear Embiid acknowledge this while also acknowledging that he’s obviously better in the post than on the perimeter—he speaks like a man who’s totally clear-eyed about his fit in the modern NBA, and as someone who has criticized him in the past for lacking self-awareness these comments put that thought to shame.
Next, the quote that’s been making the rounds on social media:
“The potential that we have (pause) I love him and I wanna be with him for the rest of my career… I don’t see the point of playing with somebody else.”
Good to hear, but there was never a reason to think this wasn’t the case—any riff between Ben and Joel is a total fabrication from the media, and you have to give them both credit for deftly navigating these land mines each time they appear.
On his elite ability to get to the free throw line:
“The notion of getting to the FT line is more about basketball IQ.”
On his defensive identity shifting as he gets older:
“Being a good defender is not about being a shot blocker, it’s all about—I’m sure if you ask my coaches they’ll tell you—people don’t drive to the paint when I’m in there, and when they do [Brett] always calls it a cat-and-mouse game, pick and chose your moment… it’s all about IQ, and picking your spots.”
Embiid’s value as a rim and paint protector will never quite flash on a highlight reel in the way that a Gobert or even Anthony Davis will, and the simple reason for that is because opponents don’t dare attack the basket with Joel on the floor—the heat maps are staggering—and right now there isn’t a player in the league remotely close to Joel in that sort of impact (regardless of if he earns All-NBA Defense or DPOY).
Finally, Joel answers a JIGSAW from Spike:
“**Spike**: Option 1, for the rest of your life, your shoes and socks are always soaking wet like they’ve just been dunked in a pool. It won’t be like this during a game, but any other time (dinner, mall, etc…)——Option 2: for the rest of your life, every beverage you drink will be warm (warm Gatorade, warm water, etc…)——**Joel**: ‘Probably the warm beverages. You gotta go with that, you can’t get through with that soaking wet socks all the time, nah, nah.’”
Totally agree, wet socks are the quickest way to ruin your day before it even starts. I can’t imagine dealing with that every moment of my existence. Most alcoholic beverages will immediately become unpalatable at room temperature or warmer, but other than that warm beverages feels like a minor inconvenience, with increased consumption of apple juice, ciders, hot chocolates, and coffee as punishment—this jigsaw couldn’t be more clear to me.