Joel Embiid No Longer A Fan-Favorite?


A majority of sports fans understand Philadelphia is a raucous, intense environment. For the most part, the city won’t tolerate anything other than success from its sports teams and their favorite, big-name players.

With that being said, Joel Embiid might be starting to lose the support of the City of Brotherly Love.

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Originally considered the favorite to be the number-one pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Embiid suffered a foot injury, which scared the Cavaliers out of drafting him. Embiid slipped to the third-overall spot, where he was drafted to Philadelphia.

The prospect compared to the legendary Hakeem Olajuwon endeared himself to fans by showcasing his uhm, unique (?) personality. He tried to get LeBron James to come to the Sixers, hollered at Kim Kardashian and tried to convince people he never smiled.

It was generally a good time, and a funny, bright spot for the 2014-15 Sixers. The problem is, the Sixers are moving forward, and it’s starting to look more and more like they’re prepared to do so without Embiid.

A lot of people knew Embiid would miss the entirety of his rookie season. But one year later, things have only changed for the worse.

“It’s incredibly ironic when you consider Embiid, who seemingly can’t be trusted, was a big part of Hinkie’s “Trust the Process” campaign.”

Being hurt is one thing, but not taking the necessary steps to improving is an entirely different thing, and it’s something that can turn a fan-favorite into a vilified entity.

It’s beginning to look more and more like Embiid will either become a good player, or a huge bust. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground.

A report from Sports Illustrated’s The Cauldron” suggests Embiid has been having a sweet time as of late, despite his sour injury status.

"“Per a source, the Sixers’ training staff were so concerned about what he was eating, that they stocked the refrigerator in his downtown in his downtown hotel residence every week with healthy food,” Brian Geltzeiler writes. “When a staffer went to restock the fridge each week, most everything was uneaten and unopened, and they were throwing out fruits and vegetables every week. When the team subsequently asked to see Embiid’s room service bill, they found that most days he was ordering junk food, along with his signature beverage, a pitcher of Shirley Temples.”"

The report also noted the team had a difficult time getting Embiid to actually wear his walking boot, which is, of course, a pivotal step in recovering.

Keith Pompey of noted a ‘blowup’ with assistant strength and conditioning coach James David helped lead to Embiid getting sent home from a West Coast road trip last January.

It’s unfortunate to hear, but it’s not surprising to anyone who has followed Embiid’s laid-back approach to recovery. Having a player’s dietary and conditioning habits, as well as maturity, highly publicized and scrutinized isn’t a good thing in any regard.

It’s incredibly ironic when you consider Embiid, who seemingly can’t be trusted, was a big part of Hinkie’s “Trust the Process” campaign.

So instead of waiting on the promising-yet-petulant star to get healthy–or stop drinking sugary beverages–the team drafted another big man in this year’s draft at the same spot they nabbed Embiid.

The big difference is Jahlil Okafor has already logged more NBA time than Embiid, and he’s looking pretty good, too.

Maybe the writing is beginning to be put on the wall. Sam Hinkie apparently dreams of having a big-man tandem that has a defensive anchor and an offensive focal point, and Okafor is now playing the role of the latter.

Okafor is the new fan-favorite, and he’s the big man who will be playing next to Nerlens Noel and complementing his defense with offense.

Embiid risks quickly becoming extinct in the minds of Philadelphia fans. If Okafor comes in and plays up to expectations, it’s hard to imagine Embiid sticking around too much longer.

In fact, there have been faint (and I mean faint) rumors the Boston Celtics — who A) cleared Embiid prior to the 2014 draft, B) are direly seeking a talented big man and C) have draft picks, which Hinkie covets–might try to make a move for Embiid. With Hinkie now having his desire front-court, why wouldn’t he jettison Embiid?

It’s always sad to see a player be labeled a bust, but Embiid has done nothing to prove he isn’t one. Embiid is a charismatic player who’s enjoying life and being a 21 year old. The problem is that personality alone doesn’t make a great athlete.

There’s time for the big guy to turn it around, but it starts with his attitude. Perhaps some time out of the spotlight will do Embiid some good.

Next: Nik Stauskas Is Almost Ready, But Not Yet

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