Joel Embiid has grown to understand the passion of Philadelphia sports fans since being drafted by the Sixers nearly seven years ago.
“When you play in Philly, they’re going to push you,” he said Wednesday night. “They’re going to get on you, they’re going to boo you. You’ve got to come out and give 110 percent, just play very hard and give them everything you’ve got. I feel like, since I’ve been here in Philly, that’s played a huge role in how dominant we’ve been at home — because you don’t want to get booed.
“You want to come out and dominate, enjoy the game. You want the fans to enjoy the game. You want to win the game. So that’s the way I feel. But at the end of the day, it’s all love. Whether they’re booing, whether they’re cheering, I know that it’s for the right reasons. They want us to be better and they want us to win.”
The home fans have especially enjoyed a certain celebration from Embiid recently.
What’s the inspiration?
“Triple H and Shawn (Michaels),” he told ESPN’s Zach Lowe on the latest Lowe Post podcast. “Especially Triple H, my favorite wrestler. We all go back to the DX days, so that’s where I got it from.”
It’s not the first time Embiid has imitated Triple H.
Lowe asked Embiid about the MVP race and, unsurprisingly, Embiid shared his view that Nikola Jokic hasn’t run away with it just yet. He also gave a detailed explanation of why he thinks Ben Simmons deserves to win Defensive Player of the Year.
“He’s been a monster defensively all season and I do think he should win it, for sure,” Embiid said of Simmons. “He has an impact on the court, especially every single night guarding the other team’s best player and just getting stops, getting in passing lanes, doing whatever you need him to do. And I know he wants it very much. I’m not fighting about it. It would be nice to win but this year I feel like he deserves it. And in the future, that’s something that I’ve always wanted. But as far as this year goes, I know how much he cares about it and I really hope he does win it — and he should win it.
“But I want to make sure that just because I’m averaging 30 points a game, I also don’t want people to forget about the side of the ball that matters to me more than the offensive side of the ball. I’ve said I’ve always wanted to win it, and that’s something I’m going to do at some point in my career. I feel like when you talk about defensive players, there’s a bunch of ways you can explain … you've got Ben, those types of guys who guard the best player on the other team. Matisse (Thybulle), one of my other teammates, he’s really good and I think he has a chance to be in those conversations in the future. And then rim protectors like Rudy (Gobert), me, Myles Turner. It just depends on what people like and what people choose to really enjoy the most. But, like I said, I think he should win it and he deserves it.”
Embiid, who has admitted he thought his season was over when he hurt his left knee on March 12 in Washington, D.C., told Lowe more about the events of that night. Ultimately, he was diagnosed with a left knee bone bruise and missed 10 games.
“I actually told them to put me as questionable to return, because I wanted to come back so bad,” he said. “I wanted to believe that it wasn’t that bad but I knew that yeah, I’m probably done. And then it swelled up. I started icing it right away in the locker room. Nothing changed. I ended up needing crutches to get out of the arena and go to the plane. And then that same night, we got to Philly and I went straight to the hospital and did some MRIs. That’s where we got somewhat good news as far as figuring out that it was actually not as bad as I feared it to be. That was relieving.”
The entire podcast is an interesting one for Sixers fans. You can listen here.