At this particular moment in time, things are going about as well as they ever have for Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid on the hardwood. Entering Friday night’s action, the Sixers find themselves in sole possession of the Eastern Conference’s top spot. And many consider Embiid the MVP frontrunner.
However, things haven’t always been so rosy for the outspoken big man. Even after he conquered the injuries that robbed him of his first two years in the NBA, he has continued to face trials and tribulations throughout his basketball journey.
Such was the case last season when the Sixers stumbled to a 43-30 record and were ousted from the playoffs in embarrassing fashion after a 4-0 sweep at the hands of the rival Boston Celtics.
In an interview with ESPN’s Zach Lowe hitting the ‘net on Friday, Embiid revealed just how much the events of last season weighed on him.
Spoiler alert: it was a lot.
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Joel Embiid Lost “the Joy”
During his appearance on The Lowe Post podcast, Embiid offered a striking assessment of his mindset during the 2019-20 campaign. Although he declined to elaborate on a specific root cause, he indicated that all was not well with himself or the team
“Last year was different, like, I just didn’t have the joy,” Embiid said. “I mean, I am not going to get into it but, you know, everything with the team and everything around you wasn’t right. It’s too much to talk about, but it just wasn’t right, and I wasn’t having fun.”
Things apparently got so bad that he occasionally found himself wishing he was doing something other than playing basketball.
“At times last year, and I will be honest, I would come in and — I will say, I am the type of guy, I love basketball — I would come into the gym and I would feel like, ‘Oh my God, I hope this goes so fast so I can leave, so I can go home.’ That’s how I felt last year. I was going through such, I was at a point where I was just losing my mind.”
“Everything was just not going good around there,” he concluded.
On Being Disrespected by All-NBA Voters
While he refrained from calling out any specific individual or situation for causing him to feel so apathetic about hooping, Embiid didn’t pull any punches with regard to his All-NBA exclusion.
“Not to be cocky, but a player of my talent should never not be in those type of conversations,” he said. “So to not have made it, it kind of hurt a little bit.”
It’s difficult to argue that Embiid should have beaten out All-NBA First and Second-team selections Anthony Davis and Nikola Jokic at the center spot. After all, both were MVP candidates that led their teams to levels of success well beyond that of Philly.
However, there is certainly a debate to be had regarding Embiid and Third-team pick Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz.
In the end, though, Gobert won out and it perturbed the Sixers star so much that it was on his mind even as he was welcoming a child into the world.
“I remember when it came out, we were in the hospital, we had just gotten there and she was about to give birth and I was trying to contain myself, I was so pissed off,” he said.
“I had headaches, she was in the bed, just in pain, I was trying to contain myself, I was so mad. You know in shows and stuff, in cartoons, when air starts coming out of their head? That’s basically how I felt. That’s how mad I was. If it was any other situation, I would have probably broken something. There was a TV in the room, I was thinking about just grabbing the TV and just breaking it. I was really mad.”