Outside of being NBA players, Joel Embiid and Jose Alvarado don't have much in common.
Embiid is a 7-foot MVP candidate who signed a supermax extension this offseason. If you believe the official height listing, Alvarado is a 6-foot rookie on a two-way contract. The first start of his NBA career was the Pelicans' loss Tuesday to the Sixers; New Orleans was down almost its entire usual starting lineup.
The Sixers struggled against the pesky Pelicans and Embiid got into a confrontation with Alvarado during the second quarter that resulted in both players being assessed technical fouls. The fine for Alvarado apparently didn't seem just to either player.
"We talked during the game," Alvarado told reporters. "It was all love and respect. It was the heat of the moment, nothing personal. Two ball players going at it."
Alvarado tied up Embiid on a loose ball shortly after the double technicals. As the two lined up for the subsequent jump ball, some courtside fans pulled out their phones to capture the atypical size disparity. Embiid won the jump ball, to no one's surprise — Alvarado wisely didn't leap for it — but New Orleans got possession and went the other direction for a Willy Hernangomez and-one layup.
The Sixers and Pelicans have wrapped up their regular-season series, so we won't see Alvarado and Embiid play again this year outside of an improbable NBA Finals matchup.
Embiid shared his side of the story Thursday night following the Sixers' win over the Lakers, expressing his admiration for Alvarardo's fearlessness.
“I wasn’t expecting it to come out," Embiid said. “I felt bad for him. … I watch a lot of basketball. Anytime I’m not doing anything, I’m always watching other games and other stuff, and I just like his energy. He plays hard, he competes. Even when he picked up the tech, he wasn’t backing down. It was just regular trash talk, just two guys going at each other on the court. But he didn’t back down, and I respected that. I liked that about him.
“So after the game, I just went up to him and I told him to keep fighting and keep it going. And obviously the other part … I just felt like that’s the least I could do because I made him pick up the tech. And obviously he doesn’t make as much as other guys in the league, so I just felt like that was on me. I didn’t want him to lose that money, because I’m sure we all need it.”