Joel Embiid raised eyebrows — and expectations — when he declared himself the “best player in the world.” Guess what? He’s not taking it back.
Embiid, who originally made the comments at the NBA All-Star Game, was asked about the bold statement on Monday after he scored a career-high 49 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. The Sixers were playing without starting point guard Ben Simmons and were desperate for a win.
Best player in the world? “Yea, f–k it.”
“Yea, I believe I am [the best player in the world],” Embiid told sideline reporter Serena Winters. “Yea, f–ck it. My bad. I do believe it. When I play like tonight anything can happen.”
Embiid also sought to clarify what he meant when he first made the claim last week.
“What I said was that All-Star Game fourth quarter, I’m out there with some of the guys that are considered the best players in the world,” Embiid said, “and I’m out there just dominating, being unstoppable, doing whatever I want, especially in the post. So to me, I just felt like that was a chance for me to prove that I deserved being in that conversation of being the best player in the world.”
Embiid’s Historic Night Matches Sixers Legends
The Sixers beat the Atlanta Hawks 129-112, led by Joel Embiid’s 49 points and another 25 from Tobias Harris. Getting big nights from those two guys might be the new normal as Ben Simmons might be out for an extended period of time. The Australian point guard is dealing with a serious back injury.
On Monday, it was Embiid doing the heavy lifting. He became the first Sixers player to score 49 points and grab 10 rebounds since Moses Malone did it in 1984. The only other players in franchise history to put up 49 points and 14 rebounds are Moses Malone, Wilt Chamberlain and Dolph Schayes, per NBC Sports Philadelphia. All three guys are in the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame.
The Middle Finger Heard Around the NBA
Joel Embiid’s performance was mired in drama at the end of the game. The All-Star center was seen flipping the middle finger to the Hawks’ Kevin Huerter after he stole the ball from Embiid with 24 seconds left on the clock. Embiid looked like he was trying to run the clock down, with the Sixers holding a 17-point lead. Huerter thought he was lining up another shot to get to 50 points.
“There’s always this thing about you shouldn’t shoot the ball if you’re up 20 or something like that. And I feel like it should go both ways,” Embiid told reporters. “I’m running the clock down and I feel like the game is over.”
Embiid didn’t hoist another shot. However, Atlanta’s Cam Reddish did fire one final shot that clanged off the rim. That didn’t sit well with the big man.
“I feel like it should go both ways,” Embiid said. “If the team up by 21 is running the clock off, I feel like the other team should also respect it. We just moved on, but it is what it is and we got the win. That’s all I care about.”
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