The dynamic between Joel Embiid and Sixers fans must be perplexing to an outsider. About two weeks ago, he shushed the Wells Fargo Center crowd, later saying “they’ve gotta do a better job.” Monday night, he soaked in the fans’ adulation, smiling and dancing on his way to a career-high 49 points in the Sixers' 129-112 win over the Hawks (see observations). He heard MVP chants, too.
The mood shifted dramatically after a miserable third quarter in which Sixers squandered a lead once as large as 21 points and allowed the 17-win Hawks to score 40 points.
Well, they were still booing,” Embiid said. “They booed in the third quarter. But it’s cool. Passionate. I have a lot of love for them. Doesn’t matter, they might have me in a lot of trade machines and all that stuff, they might boo, but it’s still all love. We’ve had a very, very deep connection since I’ve been in Philly and I’ve always appreciated everything they’ve done for me and all the love they’ve given to me.
“All I can do to reward them is to try to get wins every single night by playing hard and doing my job. That’s what I’m going to keep on doing and I’m sure they’re going to stay happy.
Passionate is a strong choice of description by Embiid. The thought of considering how to trade a 25-year-old who’s started three straight All-Star Games sounds ludicrous … and, well, it is, especially when one puts it in those simple terms.
It’s true, though, that fandom is often an irrational activity dictated more by emotion than logic. Embiid, who's been in Philadelphia since 2014, seems to get that.
However, just know that if you’re frustrated with Embiid’s attitude or the number of three-pointers he takes and throw out the idea of an Embiid for Hassan Whiteside swap — it works on the trade machine! — Embiid might see it and scoff at it.
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