The real problem bothering Joel Embiid isn’t the booing or the need to be a “good a–hole.” No, the big man simply misses his boy.
Embiid developed a lasting friendship with Jimmy Butler in their half-year together in Philadelphia, according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith. When Butler exited for the Heat in the offseason, Embiid was upset about the move and hasn’t been able to put it behind him.
As rumors circulate about a possible Butler-Embiid reunion in Miami next season, stemming from a controversial Instagram exchange, Smith added a little more context to their relationship.
“Joel Embiid is not happy. He can sit there and talk all he wants but Embiid is not happy because his boy is gone,” Smith said on ESPN’s First Take. “Jimmy Butler is gone. When Jimmy Butler left Joel Embiid was not happy about that. Now, I’m here to tell you that Jimmy Butler was leaving. I’m not blaming the Sixers for that. That brother wanted to go to South Beach.”
“Jimmy Butler loves Joel Embiid but he would also hold Joel Embiid accountable,” Smith continued. “Joel Embiid misses that and that relationship that they had. So you have a situation where you have guys who are underachieving, you’ve got a coach who can’t seem to get the most out of his players, and you combine that with Jimmy Butler — I don’t know if Joel Embiid would ever admit it publicly — but I’m telling you he ain’t been happy since Butler left Philadelphia.”
Butler and Embiid Text Almost Every Day
For those thinking that Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler are just trolling the NBA. Well, there could be a hint of that going on. But, make no mistake, these two guys share a genuine bond.
When Philadelphia hosted Miami back in November for Butler’s first visit as a member of the Heat, the star guard gave a candid interview to The Athletic‘s Michael Lee where he talked about how special Embiid was.
Butler said Embiid might be the best player in the league and applauded him as being obsessive about his game. The two text almost every day, a relationship Butler never established with Ben Simmons.
“Because that muthafucka is special. For real,” Butler told Lee, as transcribed by Crossing Broad. “Any time I text him, which we text plenty, FaceTime, phone calls. I always tell him, ‘Continue to show why you’re the best player in this league.’ Because I saw it. I saw it. He can do everything. Like, legit, he can do everything. He works and I respect it. That’s how you become the best player, you’ve got to be obsessed with it. And he is. He is.”
Maybe Butler has just gotten into everyone’s heads in the Sixers’ locker room. His sound bites are helping to divide the team and lead to some preposterous trade rumors. Last week, Butler and the Heat took down the Sixers in embarrassing fashion following a 137-106 defeat. Butler scored 38 points in 29 points. Yes, he might be playing mind games.