Joel Embiid and Georges Niang have both come a long way since they faced each other in Big 12 play.
Niang has lost significant weight, navigated the G League and become a valuable Sixers bench player, while Embiid has taken a unique path to MVP candidacy.
On Embiid’s 28th birthday, Niang found a fun way to remind the five-time All-Star of his college days. At Wednesday morning’s shootaround in Cleveland, the Sixers surprised Embiid with shirts featuring a photo from his time at Kansas.
Embiid got a spirited rendition of “Happy birthday,” too.
How’d the shirts happen?
John Wolfe, who co-founded T-shirt company “ShirtFaced” as a Columbia Business School project, told NBC Sports Philadelphia that Niang expressed interest in the idea and was (clearly) pleased with the final product.
Wolfe said he mailed about 25 shirts for Niang to distribute to his teammates, though the design is now available for anyone to purchase. Jimmy Garoppolo and Cooper Kupp are among the other pro athletes he’s put on custom shirts.
Niang has fit well on and off the court in his first year with the Sixers, even receiving “MVP” chants during a 21-point performance against the Blazers on Nov. 1.
“Joel told me to never let that happen again,” Niang said after the game.
It’s worth keeping in mind that Embiid’s Twitter name is Joel “Troel” Embiid and Niang will turn 29 on June 17.