Joel Embiid's first public comments since the falling out between the Philadelphia 76ers and Ben Simmons hit at the passionate Philadelphia fan base.
Embiid's response comes a day after the Philadelphia Inquirer's Keith Pompey dropped the latest, and seemingly inevitable, domino in the Simmons-Sixers saga. Pompey reported the three-time all-star met with Philadelphia's front office and told them he no longer wishes to be a Sixer and doesn't intend to report for training camp.
"I haven’t forgotten but 2 years ago, I got booed, people in Philly wanted me to be traded," Embiid wrote on Twitter. "I even shushed them. Only the real ones didn’t but I just put the work in that offseason to be better cuz I knew I wasn’t playing up to my potential. Philly fans, y’all also gotta be better."
Embiid went back and found a tweet from Feb. 2020 of a clip from a Philadelphia sports radio fan caller blasting him, and in turn, used that as motivation. Then, Embiid made sure to clarify one distinct point in all of this: Simmons is not Embiid.
"For clarity, I love the criticism, I love when I’m told I can’t do something," Embiid wrote. "It makes me work harder to prove everyone wrong but not everyone is built like that."
The fallout between the Sixes fanbase and Simmons took a huge turn after his poor offensive showing in their second-round exit in the NBA Playoffs to the Hawks. Simmons was incredibly passive due to his self-admitted lack of confidence in his shot, exemplified best when he passed up an open dunk underneath the basket in Game 7.
Following the game, head coach Doc Rivers candidly threw Simmons under the bus with a few postgame responses. Embiid did the same without naming Simmons, pointing to that deferred dunk as a pivotal. Despite fans supporting Simmons at the free throw line at the arenas during the series, the 76ers fanbase has not recovered from Simmons' playoffs. Since then, Simmons had reportedly cut off communication with Embiid and the 76ers and trade rumors have run amuck.
A little over two months after that crushing Eastern Conference Semifinals upset for the No. 1 seeded Sixers, Embiid has taken a more sympathetic tone toward Simmons.
"I love playing with Ben. Stats don’t lie. He’s an amazing player and we all didn’t get the job done. It’s on me personally. I hope everyone is back cuz we know we’re good enough to win," Embiid tweeted.
With president of basketball operations Daryl Morey determined to get an All-Star point guard like Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard in return for Simmons, this report of his desire not to report to camp loses the Sixers some leverage. California teams like Golden State and Sacramento have reportedly been in the running for Simmons' unique services in recent weeks, while the Timberwolves have also been a consistent team in rumors.
A 6-foot-11, 240-pound point guard, Simmons was the runner up for Defensive Player of the Year last season. While Morey tried to recoup his value with time away from that woeful postseason, Simmons could be pushing the envelope to make sure he starts the 2021-22 season on a team he is wanted.