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Joel Embiid danced shirtless on stage at Meek Mill’s concert last night

And the backlash is really dumb.

Joel Embiid is a fun-loving guy who is easy to root for. This was my first takeaway this morning when I saw footage of him dancing to ‘Wicked’ by Future — quickly becoming something like his theme music — at Meek Mill’s concert in South Philly last night. “He hasn’t let injury woes crush his spirit,” I thought to myself, happy he could still enjoy himself with a night on the town.

Evidently, some people don’t feel the same way about this. Embiid has not played a game for the Sixers in a few weeks, and people are starting to get restless with the team for how they’ve handled the situation. Social media this morning has been a combination of appreciation for his outgoing personality and concern trolling about this being a “bad look” for the organization and Embiid.

The Sixers have implied pretty heavily Embiid’s absence on the court is a result of their cautiousness, not a reason to worry or tanking in disguise. Based on their handling of his minutes and game load the rest of the season, it’s easy to take this suggestion at face value. They want to protect him as much as they can in a season where the stakes are not all that high.

This does not mean every second he spends preparing to play his next game should be spent in an ice bath or engulfed by bubble wrap. 30 seconds to a minute or so of dancing, whether it’s on a stage in front of thousands of people or in front of his bathroom mirror, is in no way comparable to the burden of playing a decent minutes load in an NBA game or even participating in NBA practices.

Hone in on that last part — Embiid has been in and around the Sixers’ practice facility constantly during his absence from the lineup. This is not a case where they’ve held him out altogether and have asked him just to rest. This is not like Andrew Bynum, when a guy coming off an actual procedure on his knee was out doing things against doctor’s orders and ghosting on the team otherwise.

If you’re worried about him doing this, I’m not sure how you can possibly trust his ability to stay healthy enough to build around him long-term. It seems impossible to simultaneously believe the Sixers are using kid gloves on Embiid and that he shouldn’t be dancing at a rap concert, yet it seems to be a prevailing thought for a lot of people out there today. These people are what are otherwise known as “the feds”.

The team took the outrage as seriously as it deserves to be treated:

Joel Embiid is the most captivating athlete to walk into this city in nearly two decades, and he is sharing the gift of his personality with the world. I’d appreciate if we could let him breathe and continue to share that gift without inventing reasons to criticize him or the team.

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