Sixers: The Joel Embiid and Dikembe Mutombo connection

Philadelphia 76ers, Joel Embiid (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Turner Sports)
Philadelphia 76ers, Joel Embiid (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Turner Sports) /

On the heels of Joel Embiid‘s first ever 50-point display against the Chicago Bulls, it’s only right we celebrate our favorite big man with a tribute to one of our old legends. For more on that game, check out The Sixer Sense’s Samkelo Jiyane has an in-depth look at his performance up right now.

See in as far as skills set goes, there’s no doubt Embiid is far more similar to Hakeem Olajuwon. The spin moves, the up and under moves, all of that is 100.0 percent a product of having studied Olajuwon’s post-game. However, when Olajuwon played he was a relatively quiet guy.

I’ve already written a personal blog on Tumbler that compares Hakeem Olajuwon and Joel Embiid’s styles. Also one of my colleagues, Jonathan Geib, has an awesome article where he is comparing Embiid to Shaquille O’neal. In that regard, Embiid’s in great company there.

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Hakeem “The Dream”  Olojuwon however, was an introvert by nature, he led by example on the court. The guy who Embiid really reminds me of, in as far as personality, is Dikembe Mutombo.

Embiid’s similar to former Sixers’ big man Mutombo

Philadelphia has been home to some great big men throughout NBA history. Even that before man like Dolph Schayes, back in the 1950’s when the team was still called The Nationals and played out of Syracuse.

In the mid 60’s, with the team having been moved to Philadelphia and renamed the 76ers, the much underappreciated Wilt Chamberlain was drafted and thus the Sixers had a true NBA star on their books. George McGinnis certainly followed in this tradition, averaging over 20 points per game in all three of his seasons as a Sixer. Then, of course, came the surly, no-nonsense, Moses Malone.

Before Embiid ever blessed Philly with the awesome “troll and wave to the crowd” motion, another big African manned the paint and made slashers and cutters wish they hadn’t tried it, that was of course Mutombo.

See the 2001/02 76ers were not much of an offense but defensively they really only had one weakness. Allen Iverson’s sized meant opponents would try to isolate him and if you happened to beat Iverson off the bounce, it was my guy Dikembe that made you pay for it.

After which of course, he’d bless you with the infamous finger wag.

Yes indeed. If there is a common thread in the styles of play of the two seven-footers, then it’s all on the defensive end. Mutombo led the league in blocks from 1993/94 to 1995/96.

In fact, Mutombo is not shy to say that Embiid is even more talented than he was. In a very low-key interview by The Post Game, Mutombo discusses Embiid’s potential and of course, never failing to mention how much he absolutely loves Embiid’s personality. TMZ caught up to Mutombo and “the finger wag master” claimed he’d be giving Embiid lessons.

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Makes me proud as an African, I tell you. Embiid clearly loves the comparisons to the greats and says as much in an NBA produced video package where he speaks a bit about Olojuwan. However, it much rather mimics the Philadelphia 76ers former big man Mutombo when it comes to his personality.