The Joel Embiid fan club is growing by the day. The Philadelphia 76ers big man was riding a tidal wave of MVP momentum heading into All-Star Weekend and a monster performance in Sunday’s game only fueled the argument.
Embiid finished with 36 points and 10 rebounds in 31 minutes. Prior to the game, ESPN’s Kendrick Perkins was trying to come up with a good comparison for the Sixers star and put a hilarious spin on it. The former Boston Celtics center called Embiid the “best player in the game” and explained why following Philly’s 123-120 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night.
“He’s the best player in the game of basketball. If Hakeem Olajuwon and Kevin Durant had a baby … guess what? It would be Joel Embiid that would come out, right? He’s so skilled and he took that matchup personally today,” Perkins said. “He cannot be guarded. If you watch him he has everything in his arsenal. I mean, step back three-pointers, it’s so beautiful to watch, spreading the floor, running with great speed, great pace … he can play bully ball too, getting and-ones, going to the low block … he is the best player in basketball.”
Embiid wasn’t asked about that specific compliment but he did address his MVP-level play through 58 games this season. He wants more respect for what he brings on the defensive end of the floor.
“I don’t get a lot of respect when it comes to my defense,” Embiid said at All-Star Media Day. “So I want to be able to be this great offensive player and I already think defensively I’m up there but I really want to show that. I really want to earn that respect when it comes to the defense but it takes a lot.”
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Nine Sixers Greats Make 75th Anniversary Team
The NBA literally rolled out the red carpet for their greatest players prior to Sunday night’s All-Star Game. The 75th Anniversary Team was honored prior to tip-off in Cleveland where nine Sixers players were honored including current star James Harden. His name went alongside Allen Iverson, Wilt Chamberlain, Dolph Schayes, Charles Barkley, Moses Malone, Hal Greer, Billy Cunningham, Julius Erving.
Embiid will surely be added to the next version of that Hall-of-Fame list. The 7-footer almost took home the MVP trophy in Sunday’s All-Star Game, if not for a ridiculous 50-point effort from Steph Curry. The Warriors guard put on a shooting clinic as he drilled three-pointers from all over the court.
Waiting for Harden’s Debut
Philadelphia remains off until Friday, February 25 when they travel to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves at 8 p.m. That date has been tentatively slated for James Harden to make his Sixers debut. His new teammates can’t wait to see the “basketball savant” in action.
“You’re talking about a guy that is in the elite of the elite of the elite when it comes to scoring the basketball,” Georges Niang said. “Like I said before, a basketball savant. Breaking guys down. You need two guys to guard James Harden.”
A savant is a very knowledgeable person, to the point of being obsessive.