The Sixers have had many transcendent basketball players suit up for the organization over the years. Far too many to name in this space.
That has also included some of the NBA’s biggest personalities. Think Allen Iverson and Charles Barkley.
Now think about this: Joel Embiid has the chance to be bigger than them all.
For evidence, start with Embiid’s impact last week during the league’s latest Basketball Without Borders stop in Africa.
Sure, the Cameroon native stole the show back on his home continent as he displayed just how far he has come since being a Basketball Without Borders camper in 2011. Embiid scored a game-high 24 points on 9 for 18 shooting to go with eight rebounds and four assists in the NBA Africa Game.
But taking part in the event had much deeper meaning for the Sixers’ All-Star center.
“Yeah, it's fun for me. I think as long as God allows me, as long as my schedule allows me, that's something I want to do every year, just come back and give back,” Embiid said, per KweséESPN deputy editor Lindsay du Plessis.
“When I was in that situation, I felt great being among NBA players. I wanted to learn from them. I wanted to touch them because I was so amazed by them.
“… It's also a way for me to grow the game of basketball in Africa. I feel like we have a lot of talent, undiscovered talent, that can have a chance just like I did. They just need an opportunity.”
With an entire continent behind him, Embiid is set to pounce on his own opportunity to become one of the world’s most recognizable faces in sports.
The charismatic 24-year-old is already the ultimate social media maven. He’s graced the cover of NBA Live 19 The ONE Edition and shown off his love for video games even more by signing on as the gaming headset ambassador for HyperX. Embiid has also previously appeared in a Jolly Ranchers ad and made a cameo in the latest star-studded Madden NFL 19 commercial. Plus, the big man could set off a bidding war when his current sneaker deal expires.
“For brands like Puma, New Balance and Nike, there's an intrigue in Embiid's on- and off-court skills that could land him one of the highest shoe deal offers of this class,” ESPN’s Nick DePaula said last month. “Wherever he lands — don't rule out a return to Adidas either — he'll be sure to let you know, in his own unpredictable and hilarious way.”
First up for Embiid was winning over Philadelphia. Then he set his sights on giving back to Africa. Next up: take over the world.
The good news for Sixers fans is that Embiid understands his global imprint won’t become a complete reality unless he does his work on the court … where he truly expects to dominate the most.
“I want to win the MVP because if I play better the stats show my team plays better too,” Embiid said during a workout prior to the NBA Africa Game. "That’s a goal. I’ve got to set the bar high if you want to go somewhere.”
Forget somewhere. Embiid has the talent and personality that can take him everywhere.