Joel Embiid: Behind the Injury

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by Jake Montgomery

Before patrons of the Philadelphia 76ers get too depressed about the latest injury and surgery in a devastating saga that will now keep a young man and their 2014 #3 pick away from his profession for a second full year, it is worth remembering that Joel Embiid is a really tall dude with a great sense of humor.

If you’re not already on team Joel, rooting for him ecstatically from the sideline, crestfallen when the next piece of injury news hits the airwaves, then keep reading. If you’re already pulling for the guy, keep reading. If you’re a human being with a heart and a funny bone, keep reading. The guy is a freaking comedian, and if he could actually play and play well, everyone involved in or following the NBA and American sports in general would benefit. Don’t worry, I’m knocking on wood more aggressively than Nerlens Noel defends the rim.

This article, which is really just a collection of tweets with hopefully enlightening commentary, is not at all meant to make fun of the fallen warrior (poke fun perhaps, but not make fun). The purpose of the article is to expose or remind all of us that Joel Embiid is an awesome, fun, hilarious guy who we should all be hoping hits the hardwood soon. Let’s get started:

 Joel Embiid arrives to America from his home Nigeria in September 2013, and someone, some wise person introduces Joel to Twitter. It sounds like the early days of Jayhawk “boot camp” were rough, but at least he survived without puking. You gotta wonder if some bold KU fan offered him a ride…

Unfortunately in class, they didn’t cover contemporary American rap, a gaping hole in Joel’s education which led to this, some would say “ignorant,” comment calling out Kansas teammate and #1 pick that year, Andrew Wiggins.

Thank God Joel wasn’t drafted by the Raptors. He’d have had to apologize and make up some excuse to Drake like Lakers 2015 pick Larry Nance Jr. having to explain, “Yeah, uh, Kobe, man, when I called you a rapist on Twitter I didn’t mean it. My bad.” Maybe Drake, like Kobe, would have forgiven the young fella.

Then, as Joel gets settled in the U.S., he seems to gain the will to be of honest on social media, and honestly, the guy kind of wants to achieve fame and fortune. Now you might thinking that saying so is necessarily an insult, but Joel is less narcissistic materialist and more every-man. He’s kind of one of us, and he kind of wants what most of us want:

It’s unclear if the practice was good because of the new iPhone or if these are two unconnected things that happened in the same day. This one is more explicit:

Getting those follows shouldn’t be hard when you’re the most talented rapper in your age bracket, probably putting you ahead of Drake too I’m guessing . . .

This must have been one of those days during freshman year where your proctor or advisor or coach brings a bunch of freshmen together so that they can share their talents and some personal stories. There’s always that one guy who you think is just making shit up but he’s from an exotic place so you’re not totally sure . . .

When Joel declared for the draft after his freshman year at KU, he brought back the whole “killing the lion” thing as if to admit that it’s a metaphor for doing great things. Whether he actually did the deed as a child or not, he’s using killing a lion as a metaphor for overcoming challenges and earning his way to success with hard work, and it works in my book. I don’t even want to know if the story is real anymore:

Ooooooh! This will come in hand with the Sixers’ plan to run an aggressive defense and fast-paced, athlete-dominated game. Maybe this tweet is the reason why Sam Hinkie drafted Joel after all. Had no idea that he possessed this kind of speed:

Now we’re moving on to some of the more fun, weird messages from Joel. You fight yourself asking if anyone has ever said these things before him. For how surprising they are, they’re awesome. Joel speaks his mind, and he don’t care if people find it a little . . . bizarre.

Putting that last one in the category of “bizarre tweets” is an unfair dig from a U.S. soccer fan who shouldn’t be talking, but maybe I’m just getting Joel back, and Cameroon did only manage one goal . . . in a 4-1 defeat . . . in the whole tournament so. . . Moving on, we now have a series of “tweet collections” from Joel that each focus on a singular topic, because some things are too important to tweet about only once. We start with the category of “PS4” for 1000:

The idea that a guy as tall as Joel Embiid, who made it to the NBA, would ever shop on Black Friday is funny to me, but it really shouldn’t be. I understand his desire to have a PS4, and (unfortunately) he’s probably been playing it a lot lately. Again, I wonder if any KU fans were tempted to just go to a store on Black Friday, buy a PS4, and DM Joel after: “Hey man, I, uh, got you that PS4. Wanna hang out when I give it to you?” I mean, if he thinks you’re weird and doesn’t hit you back, at least you have a brand new PS4.

Apparently the “African Kid” card worked better than his first request, because just a week later. . .

Then there was the big moment in the big man’s life when he decided a) that he was crushing on Rihanna and b) that the world should know he was crushing on Rihanna. His bravery and the way he uses the situation to also make fun of both himself and news-breakers in the media is commendable.

He even tried to get a couples nickname started!!! And there wasn’t even a couple. Ok, this is maybe bordering on a weird move, but it’s also awesome, because it’s Rihanna and it’s Joel Embiid. She’s world famous, and he’s that guy who had one pretty good season in college basketball and then got injured. In some evident ways, Joel’s a just a normal guy, like us, just a little more public with how he feels and a little more famous.

Finally, there’s Joel’s “Sixers Saga” which began with the hope and apparent belief that he would be drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Saga into eventually broke into two sets of disappointments–having to get surgery because of a foot injury before the draft and getting drafted by the miserly Philadelphia 76ers, both of which Joel overcame and spun masterfully into positive and humorous exclamations, at least on social media:

Welcoming his new teammate:

Reaching out to his new fans:

And courting Lebron for his new franchise while also making fun of himself:

Joel sometimes gets a little sad too, like we all do when things aren’t exactly working out because of something small or because of something as big as an injury that might be costing us our careers and millions and millions of dollars:

The point is this kid’s a good guy in a tough spot, and we all know he’d have well over a million Twitter followers if he were healthy and playing as well as everyone knows he can on a team that should be up-and-coming starting soon (with such a hard stress on the italics of “should be” that it almost becomes “should have been“). The least you could do for him and yourself is throw him a follow. Remember, he’s only 21:


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