Report: Sixers’ Joel Embiid Challenged by Former Player, Was ‘Noticeably Upset’

Joel Embiid

Getty Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid

While the current state of the Philadelphia 76ers doesn’t seem to be in any type of major disarray, there’s still some apparent concern. In-season acquisition Jimmy Butler created headlines when a recent report came to light that he “aggressively challenged” coach Brett Brown. Apparently, that was just a part of the strangeness going on behind closed doors.

When diving deeper into the situation, Keith Pompey of the Philly Inquirer detailed another situation which reportedly occurred back in December. According to Pompey, the Sixers coach brought in former San Antonio Spurs forward Bruce Bowen to talk to the team prior to a game. The end result was an uncomfortable situation involving star Joel Embiid after being “singled out” by Bowen.

Bowen lectured the players about cherishing their roles, whatever they might be. He created an awkward environment, according to multiple league sources. The 13-year veteran singled out Embiid, yelling, “I ain’t scared of you” three times while walking toward the big man. Realizing the approach was having a negative effect, Bowen told Embiid he was only joking. However, the center was noticeably upset and went on to struggle in that night’s 123-96 loss to the Spurs. Folks in the room felt as if the speech was scripted.

Pompey goes on to state that the coach apologized to the team due to the incident. Regardless, it doesn’t change the fact that there seems to be some type of drama brewing around every corner. Then again, there’s a chance this may have a bit more to do with the Sixers being squarely in the spotlight after a solid 2017-18 season and a good start to the current year.

The Jimmy Butler-Brett Brown Situation

This entire situation began to escalate when it came to light that Butler had apparently been “disrespectful” towards Brown. As ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski revealed, the Sixers guard challenged the coach about his role in the offense.

Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Jimmy Butler has aggressively challenged coach Brett Brown on his role in the offense, complicating an already tenuous chemistry among the team’s Big 3 hierarchy, league sources told ESPN.

It also cites an incident which occurred during a film session, although Brown stated he had no issue with the exchange involving Butler. As Pompey and the Philly Inquirer revealed, the Sixers coach spoke on the subject over the weekend.

“I didn’t feel like any of that crossed the line,” Brown said. “And if it did, that would have been dealt with quickly. So people speculating about an argument or some type of aggressive disagreement — if it were, I would own it, and we would talk about it.

“I think from his standpoint, that is unfair.”

Joel Embiid’s MVP Start to Season

Putting aside all the drama, there’s no way to ignore the massive steps forward Embiid continues to take in his NBA career. The 24-year-old has only played 132 games in the NBA and in his third season (not including injuries from early years), he’s posting MVP-caliber numbers. Arguably the most important part is that he’s also remained healthy while playing a large number of minutes.

Through 38 games, Embiid is averaging 26.9 points, 13.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.9 blocks per game. Over the 33.9 minutes per game he’s played, the Sixers young star has shot a career-best 48.4 percent from the field while knocking down 80.5 percent of his free throws. Embiid also leads the league in double-doubles with 34 to this point.

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