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Embiid says Siakam elbow not intentional, was irritated by reaction of Toronto fans

A masked Joel Embiid returned to the court Friday and just his presence changed the series, with the 76ers winning Game 3 and looking much improved from the losses in Miami.

After that win, a reporter asked Embiid if the elbow from fellow Cameroonian Pascal Siakam — which gave him the concussion and fractured orbital bone — was intentional. He said no, but then went into a thoughtful reaction to the Raptors fans, which at the time of the injury chanted “f*** Embiid.”

“I don’t know, but I don’t think it was intentional. That’s my guy, obviously. It’s unfortunate. I don’t think he meant to do it. But, you know, I was more irritated by the perception of when that happened by really the fans and, you know, I’ve always thought they have great fans, but I kind of changed my mind about, you know, the fans up there. Whether it throughout the series, the ‘F’ chants and all that stuff. That’s cool. It never gets to me, anyways.

“But I think they got mad because I did the airplane celebration. But it’s been going on in a few arenas these days where, the fans, they just feel like, it’s okay to just say ‘F--- somebody.’ There’s a bunch of kids in the arena. I don’t think that should be OK, even if there wasn’t kids, but it’s almost like, if you respond to it is almost like, in the Draymond situation, the league fines you.

“To me , it doesn’t bother me. I’m just speaking for, really, everybody in the NBA. Like I said, if you give it you also got to be able to take it. And I’ve said it about our fans too, when they boo. If the players are gonna go back, you got to be able to take it, too.”

Embiid is right. The lines of decorum that have been crossed in other areas of life — passengers yelling at flight attendants or people screaming at grocery store employees — have bled into NBA arenas. Embiid is also correct that often now it’s a one-way situation where some fans — often with their friend videoing, trying to get a viral moment — cross the lines with things they say, hoping for a reaction. If the player does react, the league fines the player. If the player has the fan tossed, he gets called soft or worse. Fans are dishing it out and players should be allowed to respond in kind.

As for the injury itself, it was incidental. Now that Embiid is back the 76ers looked better — just his presence on the court led to James Harden and Tyrese Maxey having their best games of the series. Will that be enough? Miami still leads 2-1 and will shoot better in Game 4 — Sunday’s game will tell us a lot about the rest of this series.