The questions were inevitable, and Brett Brown defended his crown jewel as expected. After a weekend of tumult, Joel Embiid vented frustration on social media on Monday. The 25-year old, who will start his third NBA All Star Game this weekend, quoted Batman in saying “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain”. The rest of the line goes “I can do those things, because I’m not a hero, not like Dent” In reference to the alter ego of the DC Universe villiain “Two Face”.
“It’s Joel, you know, and is it ideal? maybe not. Is it Joel? Yes.” Said Brett Brown before Tuesday nights game against the LA Clippers.
After Monday night’s original tweet, Jimmy Butler fed into it by saying he knew a place that appreciates villains. Embiid responded “Damn right my brother”.
Embiid knows, though, through thick and thin, there is a reciprocated love affair with the tri-state area:
“Is there a you know Maverick in a lot of really really good players? Yes. And is this, you know, sort of side of Joe that has always been there that it’s a, it’s a… playful is probably not the word that best suits this but it’s some phrasing of that,” said Brown. “And you know we move on.”
“Am I reading too much into it? Will I overreact? Absolutely not,” said the only NBA head coach Joel Embiid has known. “The people that have been around Joe, for all of our time, should get what motivates him. I think that we’d all be quite surprised if there isn’t a level that we see from Joe tonight,” said Brown. And Embiid did respond. Embiid heard a decidedly mixed reception for the third straight home game Tuesday. Embiid started the game by drawing fouls on consecutive possessions. As he stepped to the line, the crowd, in almost Harvey Dent-level split personality, chanted “Trust The Process”.
“The Philly fans always.. bring out the best of him, of us, you know they keep it very much at a real level, and I look forward to seeing him play tonight,” Brown said. The fans, regardless of their ebbs and flows Tuesday, helped propel the Sixers to a 10-point lead early in the second quarter. The 76ers stifled Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers’ offense, holding them to just 22 points in the first quarter.
The debate over Joel Embiid’s commitment to the team, his own health, and conditioning have reached a crescendo on sports radio. When asked Tuesday if Joel does the small things to lead a team, Brown responded strongly: “Let me double down in a way that you all wouldn’t see.. If you were [to watch] the security camera at our practice facility, you’re going to see him there at 12, 12:30 at night repetitively,” remarked Brown about the 7-footer, who is viewed as lacking a commitment to putting in the work necessary for greatness. Brown pushed back on questions of toughness and commitment.
“Not so long ago we see his fingers swinging on national TV, and a few weeks later he comes back,” Brown referenced to the dislocated ring finger that involved a torn ligament which required surgery. “All of us would be quite naive and maybe never played a lot of basketball to think like that doesn’t affect this game,” said Brown of Embiid’s struggles offensively and defensively as he came back with a brace on his left hand. “Could he be better? We all could.” Brown continued — “The ones that know really what is going on behind closed doors at 12 midnight, team meetings with things spoken and said that nobody really is aware of.”
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