Everyone knows Joel Embiid and Nick Nurse have had their share of run-ins. Whether they were calling each other out in the media or pointing fingers on the court, there has been no shortage of viral moments. All of them were in good fun, according to Embiid. He has secretly admired Nurse from afar while respecting the different “junk lineups” that the former Toronto Raptors coach has thrown at him over the years.
Embiid green-lighted the Nurse hire. He can’t wait to get in the lab.
“That’s what gets me excited,” Embiid said. “New coach trying to learn a new system, you know, hopefully there’s no growing pains there can be some so just gotta be ready for it and not give up and keep working hard.”
Embiid and Nurse have already had detailed conversations, with both men learning and growing from them. One interesting nugget Embiid shared was how Nurse would play mental head games. The coach would throw double and triple teams at him early in an effort to intentionally try and frustrate him by not allowing him to catch the ball. Nothing flustered the All-Star center more than not being able to take over from the opening tip.
“It’s been fun going against him, just his schemes offensively and defensively. Obviously, he always threw everything at me,” Embiid said. “I loved playing against him because you never knew what to do. Sometimes three guys were coming at you; sometimes two guys were coming at you; and, sometimes, it was on the dribble so he had just you guessing all the time. And just from talking to him, I asked him a bunch of those questions about what was going through your mind when you were coming up with all those schemes and he kind of gave me the insight of what he was thinking, and I also, just from those conversations, that made me better.”
Then, perhaps throwing a little bit of friendly shade at Nikola Jokic, Embiid told reporters that he didn’t do anything to improve his game this summer. He didn’t even pick up a basketball.
“I didn’t work out at all this summer,” Embiid said with a smile.