It’s important to pay attention to context. Especially when considering circumstances, like what is said in the aftermath of an embarrassing 35-point loss in the NBA playoffs. Joel Embiid just can’t catch a break right now.
The Philadelphia 76ers star was attempting to put into words his feelings on missing out on the MVP award immediately after dropping Game 5 in an emotionally draining 120-85 to the Miami Heat. Embiid turned in a poor performance, whether due to injury or distraction. So when he spit out the word “retire” in his post-game press conference, well, it drew quite the response from those listening on social media.
“That’s really the only thing I’ll say about those awards. I’m not mad, the last two years in a row I’ve put myself in that position, it didn’t happen,” Embiid told reporters. “It’s almost like at this point, it’s whatever, whatever happens happens. Last year I campaigned about it, this year I answered questions when I was asked, and the next, you know, few years before I retire it’s almost like, I don’t know what else I have to do to win it.
“To me, it’s just whatever, it’s all about – not that I wasn’t focusing on the bigger picture but it’s really time to really put all my energy into the bigger picture, which is to win the whole thing.”
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Sixers Twitter Goes Ballistic Over Retirement Talk
The key takeaway from Embiid’s comments turned out to be the part about retirement, not his desire to win a championship. Was the 28-year-old — a 7-foot, 280-pound center with a lengthy injury history — seriously hinting at calling it quits in the next few years? I don’t think that’s what he meant.
However, there were a ton of NBA fans who read that line literally. And maybe they were on to something. NBC Sports’ John Clark pulled the comment out in a Twitter post. Ditto for 6abc’s Jeff Skversky and Establish the Run’s Drew Dinkmeyer.
The fan reactions came flooding across Twitter timelines, too. Nuggets fan Alvaro posted a video of Embiid crying and wrote: “Embiid really gonna retire with 0 rings 0 MVPs but will have this.” LuxLav thinks Embiid may go the Calvin Johnson route and retire at age 30, while parody man John Stanley joked that Embiid had already announced his retirement.
Not the First Time He Has Mentioned Retirement
If talk of retirement caught anyone off guard on Tuesday night, it shouldn’t. Embiid has broached the subject in previous interviews, most notably in 2014 when his brother Arthur was killed in a car accident. He had just been drafted by the Sixers at No. 3 overall.
“I actually don’t know how many people know this, but right after I got drafted, back in 2014, I thought about walking away from the game,” Embiid said, via Bleacher Report. “I’m not exaggerating at all. I seriously considered retiring from the NBA before I’d even played one game.”
Embiid told Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix that the struggle with a recurring foot injury that caused him to sit out his first two NBA seasons was another factor in retirement consideration. Ultimately, he rehabbed and returned instead of giving up and moving back to Cameroon.
“People don’t understand the human side of all of it,” Embiid told Mannix in 2022. “But I never complain about it. We make a lot of money. [Criticism] comes with it.”
The perennial MVP candidate inked a five-year contract worth $147.7 million in 2018 with the stated goal of delivering the Sixers a championship. They are on the hook for that salary through the 2022-23 season. Will it be his last NBA contract? Stay tuned.