The Sixers’ performance — if you can even call it that — was capped off by a dreadful night by their star and the NBA’s 2022-23 MVP, Joel Embiid. Embiid had just 15 points on 5-for-18 shooting and four turnovers in the contest that ended the Sixers’ season.
Embiid sat down with reporters postgame. After a game like that, there was probably nothing Embiid could have said that would have been satisfactory to disappointed Sixers fans... but he still really didn’t help himself at some points in this press conference. Let’s take a look at some excerpts. Keep in mind this is not his entire press conference, just pieces. The full interview can be found here:
On the Sixers’ season overall:
Joel Embiid says “you could say that” these last two losses diminish what the Sixers accomplished this season— Adam Aaronson (@SixersAdam) May 14, 2023
Completely fair. Season means nothing if you can’t step up when it matters.
On if mental toughness is the missing ingredient for the Sixers:
Joel Embiid: “You can be as tough as you want mentally, but if you can’t respond by making shots, that doesn’t mean you’re weak mentally… we kept shooting and we kept missing, and that’s okay.”— Adam Aaronson (@SixersAdam) May 14, 2023
“Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.”
It wasn’t meant to be? This isn’t a breakup with a high school girlfriend. This is a Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals that only had to be played because your team couldn’t close it out in Game 6. Embiid’s point about shots not falling is completely accurate, but it would be a lot better received if not for the “wasn’t meant to be” addition.
On James Harden:
“I can’t win alone. Me and James [Harden], we just can’t win alone. That’s why basketball is played 5-on-5.”— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) May 14, 2023
Joel Embiid after the Sixers’ Game 7 loss to the Celtics pic.twitter.com/L3KB6geaUT
This quote, especially just after the two combined for 24 points on 8-for-29 shooting, is painful. Taken at face value, it seems as though Embiid is completely throwing the rest of the Sixers squad under the bus. Now, of course, this quote is making the rounds on Twitter and garnering a lot of attention and anger from Sixers’ fans. It’s understandable, really. However, the full quote is a bit more revealing:
Full Joel Embiid quote when he was asked about James Harden below. pic.twitter.com/BBnXrP1fIZ— Rich Hofmann (@rich_hofmann) May 14, 2023
So, as angry as I was too when I first read just the initial excerpt, it sounds more like Embiid was just trying to deflect all the blame/questioning regarding Harden that was being thrown at him. All in all, probably not the best answer after this specific performance, but not as egregious as the excerpt would make it seem.
On Doc Rivers:
Joel Embiid on Doc Rivers: “As far as my coach, I thought he’s done a fantastic job.”— Rich Hofmann (@rich_hofmann) May 14, 2023
Embiid added he and Rivers have a very good relationship. But he also pointed out Monty Williams and Bud and the recent coaching market, said the decision will be made by the front office.
This one will probably get a lot of attention with the amount of people speculating on the job security of head coach Doc Rivers after yet another second round exit for the Sixers. As noted, heavy hitting coaches like Mike Budenholzer and Monty Williams are now available, so it’s something to keep an eye on as the Sixers’ offseason gets underway.
What he was thinking in final minutes of Game 7/postgame:
“If I don’t finish first, it’s a failure. I don’t think I would have been proud of myself going to the Finals & losing. I freakin hate losing. If you want to call me the best player on the team, every loss & failure should be on me. It’s all on me. I will be better”— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) May 14, 2023
-Joel Embiid pic.twitter.com/1LGITw9y8u
That is a lot better. Sure, talk is cheap. That’s another issue entirely that will no doubt be discussed ad nauseam in the coming weeks. But at least there’s some accountability taken here. This is probably the attitude that Embiid should have led with and stuck with throughout the press conference, especially after such a rough game for him personally. Better late than never, I suppose, but may have been too little, too late for some fans.
Again, important to remember that just because a specific quote excerpt goes viral, it doesn’t mean it’s the whole story. Case and point being the Harden excerpt. That being said, some of these answers, isolated or in their entirety, may leave many Sixers’ fans with a sour taste in their mouths.