76ers Joel Embiid talks Ben Simmons drama, MVP race, and James Harden
Before dominating the All-Star game for Team Durant, Joel Embiid took some time to sit down with ESPN’s Malika Andrews to discuss some hot-button topics about the 76ers season.
Embiid did not hold back when discussing his former teammate Ben Simmons and his newest teammate James Harden.
With Ben Simmons off the 76ers roster, Joel Embiid was able to provide a bit more insight into the breakdown between the 76ers and Simmons over the course of the last half-year. Simmons was quoted saying he did not speak to Embiid when he was officially shipped off to Brooklyn, and Joel confirmed that by saying they hadn’t spoken in weeks.
Embiid did mention how he thinks Simmons is still a great player that’ll take the Nets up “another level” but was honest when discussing his efforts to bring Ben back to Philly over the course of the season.
“I did a lot of chasing around trying to get him back and try to make him feel comfortable again. It was tough. I didn’t care anymore.”
Finally, 76ers fans get some insight into Joel’s participation in trying to bring Ben back, and it looks like he did exactly what many expected him to do. Embiid did truly care about Ben and wanted to win with him, but at a certain point it became clear he didn’t want to return, so Embiid focused on the season. Joel had obviously kept his opinions honest in the few times he spoke with the media on the situation, but I believe Embiid when he says he made an effort to bring Simmons back.
During the interview Malika Andrews made it a point to bring up Embiid’s injury-prone tag and how it derailed his MVP campaign last season, an interesting segway into MVP talks. Embiid is once again playing elite-level basketball and is currently a front runner for the MVP award with just 24 games left in the season.
This time when prompted about MVP discussion Joel took the humble approach in his answer, acknowledging talking himself up as the MVP means little.
“I want to let the game speak for itself. That’s what I’ve been doing this year… having to take my game to another level and being a better playmaker. For us to win every single game I have to be dominant.”
Barring an injury last season Embiid would be the current defending MVP, but regardless it is nice to see him let his play speak for itself. Anyone with half a brain would understand that Joel is playing like the best player in the world. Embiid is leading the league in PPG (29.6) and just came off a 42 point, 14 rebound win over the Bucks on the road with no James Harden. On a deeper level, that answer from Embiid displays his mentality around being the Most Valuable Player, as long as he dominates the team wins, and he wins too by lifting that trophy after the season.
Finally, Embiid was asked about getting to play next to Harden, as the duo will finally be unleashed this Friday against the Timberwolves. Embiid made it clear to mention that Harden’s playmaking ability he showed with the Nets is something the 76ers are looking for him to do alongside his scoring ability.
“You look at what he did in Houston, you know he was a scorer obviously one of the best scorers of all time. Then he got involved in Brooklyn by being a playmaker… and you know that’s what we’re going to look for him to do.”
Joel also revealed his spin on Harden’s reference to the Brooklyn big three back when he joined the Nets as “Scary Hours” turning it into “Scary Minutes” for every minute the two take the court together. Embiid is certainly as if not more excited to get on the hardwood with Harden finally, a prospect once thought to be a pipe dream that will become a reality in mere days.
Mandatory Credit: Tim Nwachukwu.