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Embiid on Ben Simmons: ‘I think that’s the one that got away’

Joel Embiid joins Tyrese Maxey on the “Maxey on the Mic” pod and has some surprisingly glowing words for former teammate Ben Simmons.

Miami Heat v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Tyrese Maxey has lit the NBA on fire this year. The (he’s still just) 23-year-old budding superstar is averaging 27.1 points per game, 6.7 assists, 5.8 free throw attempts (!), shooting 39.9 percent from distance on a whopping 8.3 3PA per contest. And Maxey isn’t just a hooper, he’s also a journalist in the making hosting his own podcast called “Maxey on the Mic.”

In his most recent pod, the combo guard interviews none other than Joel Hans “The Process” Embiid. Embiid isn’t having a terrible season either. The reigning MVP is downplaying his recent knee scare, but he sits atop the NBA.com KIA MVP ranking while averaging a league-leading 33.3 points. per game, 6.4 dimes, 1.9 blocks and 1 steal.

Embiid is an unstoppable, destructive two-way force and the big man joined his teammate for the hour-plus interview.

Let’s get to some takeaways.

Processing

Tyrese, in true Howard Stern journalistic form, begins with a couple “warm up” questions to allow his guest to help him get comfy.

Maxey asks Joel how he was able to resolve all of the losses the team suffered during The Process’ early years given his competitive nature and superhuman drive to win.

Embiid said:

“...The Process, that I was really pushing wasn’t about basketball. It was about everything that I went through. Everything that I was going through. Think about it, if I miss — say my foot — I’m missing my second year [with a fractured navicular bone], everybody’s talking, all this all these stories are coming out, ‘Joel is 500 lbs,’ ‘he’ll never play a game of basketball in the NBA, ‘his career is over,’ a bunch of stuff and then we had a new GM ... and then I lost my brother, so at that point, I’m like ‘you know what, everybody is just talking like ‘Joel can’t do this,’ ‘he can’t do that,’ ‘he’ll never be able to play,’ he’s dealing with all this stuff,’ so I’m like ‘OK, this is what I believe in, this is my process and I’m gonna trust it.”

Joel is talking about how so many fans, reporters, radio hosts and pundits were trashing the Sixers and him at the time. So while he didn’t directly answer Maxey’s question about where did the actual “Trust the Process” phrase come from (Process Legend Tony Wroten once revealed that the players were told this all the time), Joel does make clear that when he used the phrase it was always bigger than roundball; especially because he wasn’t able to play during those seasons, and as soon as he did the team turned it all around.

Next, Maxey asked Embiid if The Process is over.

“I would say it’s over but it’s not completed.... the whole goal of it is to be competitive and win... but I would say it’s probably over.”

In my humble opinion (and in the opinion of former Sixers’ reporter John Gonzalez), the Process truly ended when the team hired Jerry Colangelo to begin squeezing out Sam Hinkie who drafted Embiid and left the team multiple high-quality first-round draft picks.

Discovering basketball... by playing with a volleyball?

Next, Maxey asked Embiid to talk about discovering hoops back in Cameroon as a teenager:

“[It began while playing] men’s volleyball in Cameroon,” Embiid told him. “And the funny thing is, that’s how I also fell in love with basketball because volleyball you play basically the same size courts as basketball so there would always be hoops around then playing volleyball I would just take the volleyball and start shooting some hoops. And yeah, that’s how it started.”

I refuse to spoil too much because the full pod was an awesome listen.

My favorite part was when the two get into their own evolution as teammates, how both now train with Drew Hanlen full-time, and their currently unstoppable two-man game following a summer of working out together.

No continuity (like Denver has had) over the years has been a massive source of frustration for Embiid

Embiid points to the duo’s chemistry and then discusses how “continuity” is crucial in basketball but notes that his Sixers have had too little of it over his playing career.

Colangelo Shots and Ben Simmons love

Oh, and you know Jo had to throw disgraced former Team Prez Bryan Colangelo under the bus bringing up “BurnerGate” on multiple occasions. Then Embiid gently expresses regret the 2019 team with Jimmy Butler never got the chance to run it back. Sounds as if Embiid would have loved to keep that group together for a few more years.

“[We just] Kept rotating people, it was insane,” Embiid says animatedly.

Speaking of Ben Simmons, Maxey asked Joel to talk about that old sticky situation and his former teammate, and Embiid displayed nothing but love for his former Third-Team All-NBA and Defensive Player of the Year nominee teammate.

Per Embiid on Simmons:

“I’ve always been one of those people that didn’t believe [Simmons] actually needed a jumper, like he was so good, he’s just a monster….Almost as fast as you (Maxey).... I just believed that you know if he could find a way to get his free throws to 75-80% that woulda changed everything....You can talk about this could have happened, the mistakes that have been made during the draft of Mikal Bridges but that’s just one [of the many franchise mistakes]… but I think that’s the perfect match… I think that’s the one that got away. I just hate the fact that the way things happened….”

So that last answer on Ben is probably the most surprising thing in there.

Embiid and Ben have each taken turns trolling each other over the years. It never seemed malicious but more circumstantial. In truth, Simmons has been so banged up post-Philly that the bigger what-ifs to me include trading Butler to Miami instead of maxing him, trading away Mikal Bridges, or selecting Markelle Fultz over Jayson Tatum in vital roster-building drafts.

(If you ask me, the Butler one is the mistake I focus the most on because I think their process —call back! — was so flawed. Flipping a stud 3-and-D wing in Bridges for another prospect, Zhaire Smith, and a juicy draft pick, in hopes of landing a star... or missing on a draft pick because most people believed Fultz was the top prospect in the draft, some of the other blunders at least had some understandable merit and process behind them at the time. But they shouldn’t have needed a shred of hindsight to know to try and max Butler then simply pray he took the money. Dude was only just entering his prime. Unreal....)

But Joel clearly feels that a hypothetical trio of a healthy Simmons, Maxey, with his newfound prowess (what they’d always hoped Fultz could have become and perhaps more) plus Jo himself, would have been truly unstoppable. The generational superstar seemed genuinely excited talking about a hypothetical trio that wove bits of his past with elements of his present into a dreamy title contender.

But yes, go listen and let us know what your biggest takeaways were in the replies section below.

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