CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid didn’t earn enough overall votes to be named an All-Star starter, but he has no disappointment about the outpour of fan appreciation he received during the campaign.
“It shows that the fans support me, that’s why I’m not even mad,” Embiid said after shootaround on Friday. “The fans are going stick up for who they love, and I love that.”
Embiid finished third among frontcourt players in fan votes behind only LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo, which counted for 50 percent of the votes this season. He made a late push after trailing Kevin Love for third place in the second return of votes last week.
“They’re behind me and they want me to succeed,” Embiid said. “That’s what I took from it.”
Embiid ranked fifth in media votes (25 percent), but there was a drop-off in the player votes (25 percent). Embiid was eighth in player voting, behind James, Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Kristaps Porzingis, Carmelo Anthony and Love.
Embiid is averaging 19.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 25.4 minutes per game. He is under a 28-minute restriction this season and sits out one matchup of each back-to-back series. Veteran Gerald Henderson believes Embiid’s lack of games was a factor the player votes.
“I feel like since all the players vote, it’s probably important for you to play consistent and let all the players see night to night how good you are,” Henderson said. “I think that’s the difference. You’ll see Joel’s numbers are better than a lot of guys, but because some guys have been doing it year after year consistently and guys have seen how good they are, it helps them. I think if Joel continues to play like he’s been playing, he’ll earn everybody’s respect.”
Embiid saw the competitiveness of the frontcourt race as a sign the league should revert back to the previous voting format which included centers. He has been advocating for that the entire season as he’s faced high-caliber players on the court.
“There’s a lot of talented big men in the league, especially at the center position,” Embiid said. “That’s something the NBA should think about, putting the center back on the All-Star ballot.”
Part of Embiid’s All-Star push centered around his opportunity to land a date with an unnamed celebrity if named a starter. So what happens now if he gets in as a reserve next week from the coach’s votes?
“I don’t know,” he said. “We’re going to have to figure that out.”
In spite of battling illness, Embiid plans to play Friday in front of the home crowd that was behind him during the voting process.
"I feel pretty sick still but I’ll be fine," he said. "I've been coughing a lot, sneezing, headaches, sinuses, can’t really breathe. But I'm fine."