Joel Embiid Reacts to Marcus Smart Altercation And Their Beef History

Joel Embiid, Marcus Smart

Getty Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics and Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers are separated by referee Brian Forte #45 during the second half at TD Garden on October 18, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts.

The rivalry between the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics is one of the more storied matchups across the entire NBA. The two franchises have a ton of history and are among the top Eastern Conference contenders this season. The Celtics got the better of the Sixers in the opening night matchup by securing a 126-117 victory. One notable event to occur in the matchup was a dust-up between Joel Embiid and Marcus Smart. This is not a major surprise as each of these guys has had their fair share of altercations throughout the years including with each other. Smart took exception to Embiid ripping the ball away from him with his arm caught in the big man’s grasp which bent it awkwardly. Smart was tossed to the ground and appeared to be injured before pulling Embiid’s ankle from the ground and causing a brief spat to occur.

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Embiid’s Thoughts on the Interaction

While Embiid certainly embellished the fall, an alternate angle made it clear that he did slip as well. He was asked about what happened following the matchup and put it when speaking with the media, “Honestly, I don’t know. They had called a foul and I walked away, next thing I know, my foot is getting caught up, and I slipped. Next thing, Jaylen was on top of me and I don’t know. Basketball, Emotions, first game of the season, rivalry, Boston-Philly, a lot of intensity. It’s all good,” per Ky Carlin of SixersWire.

The feud between Embiid and Smart dates back to their time in college. Each guy has been known for their ability to get under opponents’ skin. Embiid’s first-ever Instagram post in 2014 was a picture of him duking on the then-Oklahoma State guard with the playful caption, “Not very SMART to jump on that one.”

The two shared an on-court rivalry during their time in college. Embiid and the rest of the Kansas program took exception to Smart doing backflips on the court following Oklahoma State’s upset victory. This carried into the NBA with the two sharing a variety of verbal jabs, as well as kicks and shoves on the court through their first few years in the league. It reached its biggest point of escalation during the two team’s final regular season matchup of the 2018-19 season which led to Smart being ejected and fined $50 thousand for shoving Embiid. The Sixers cruised to a victory in this matchup as Embiid finished with 37 points and 22 rebounds.

Smart also had been critical of Embiid for flopping- especially during the Sixers and Celtics 2019-20 playoff series in the bubble. Embiid pointed out the irony in Smart criticizing someone else for flopping when asked about it. The Celtics guard has been fined over $10,000 already in his career for violating the NBA’s anti-flopping rules.

Smart’s Side of the Altercation

While Embiid seemed to take the high road following last night’s dust-up, Smart did not quite take the same path. He was also asked about what happened by the media following the Celtics’ victory. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year still was frustrated and stated that he, “could have cracked his head open.”

While it is not surprising the two do not get along on the court, each is a master of their craft. Both players play crucial roles in their’s team’s success and emotion is key to their style of play. Their ability to get under others’ skin is an asset in their games and helpful to their team on the court. This is far from their first dust-up and almost undoubtedly won’t be their last. It will be interesting to see if Embiid has any thoughts on these comments from Smart, but he has been attempting to turn a new leaf in his maturity of late.

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