To say Joel Embiid is an avid social media user is putting it lightly, and some of his favorite accounts to comment on are those the Grizzlies’ Chandler Parsons.
Embiid has remarked on several of Parsons’ posts this season, but what’s the connection between the two? They never were on the same team. They didn’t go to the same schools. They haven’t even faced each other in the NBA.
Embiid and Parsons met through mutual friends in Los Angeles in 2015. They quickly clicked over their similar outgoing personalities, a love of basketball and … injuries.
Parsons was rehabbing from microfracture surgery as Embiid was rehabbing from foot surgery. A young Embiid turned to Parsons, six years his senior, for advice.
“That’s my guy. That’s one of my best friends. We always joke around,” Embiid said. “He helped me. I think he was hurt at the same time. He told me, take my time, make sure you don’t push anything.”
Parsons understands Embiid’s road back to the court well. He has battled injuries during his career, including season-ending surgery in March for a torn meniscus and a left knee bone bruise that currently has him sidelined.
The small forward advised Embiid to “keep his head up.” He also told him to be prepared for setbacks and struggles that come along with getting healthy, such as soreness and minute restrictions. Embiid was held out of the second overtime of the Sixers loss to the Grizzlies because he had reached his allotted playing time (see story).
“Him coming off surgery and me coming off surgery, he asked me a lot of questions about the recovery,” Parsons said Wednesday before the Grizzlies played the Sixers. “He’s an awesome listener. … A lot of guys kind of get complacent, get used to being hurt, don’t work as hard. But he takes his rehab very, very seriously and he takes care of his body. He does all the right things and you see it paying off now with the success he’s hard early this season.”
Parsons has been there for Embiid during the young center's journey to playing again. Throughout that time, he has seen many sides of Embiid, from the social media jokester to the determined athlete.
“He’s always happy, he’s always smiling,” Parsons said. “He takes basketball very seriously. He has fun on social media and things like that. I think some people kind of take it the wrong way sometimes, but he’s just being himself and he’s not going to mold into this square that people try to make him. He’s going to be himself, he’s going to have fun. He’s just happy and fortunate he plays basketball for a living.”
Embiid is having a standout rookie year. He is averaging 17.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in his first 11 games. Embiid recorded a double-double with 12 points and a career-high 11 rebounds as Parsons watched from the sidelines Wednesday.
“Knowing everything he went through and basically how devastated he was for those two, three years, just to see the success he’s had now makes me happy,” Parsons said. “I know how hard he worked, I know how good he can be, and he’s finally starting to show it. When he’s healthy, he’s a top five center in the NBA.”