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Joel Embiid: ‘I just want to win a championship ... whether that’s in Philly or anywhere else’

Joel Embiid may have just rubbed salt in the wounds of Sixers’ fans on Monday morning.

UNINTERRUPTED Film Festival 2023 Powered by Tribeca Photo by Kayla Oaddams/Getty Images for UNINTERRUPTED

Philadelphia 76ers fans on Twitter aren’t too pleased with reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid this Monday morning.

In a recent interview at Uninterrupted Film Festival in Los Angeles, Embiid talked about his desires to win an NBA title... but added a caveat that has left Sixers’ fans shaking their heads.

“I just want to win a championship. Whatever it takes,” Embiid said. “I don’t know where that’s gonna be, whether that’s in Philly or anywhere else.”

Yeah, that’s not going to go over well. Not the best example of reading the room on Embiid’s part. The fanbase is still feeling the pain from the Sixers dropping their 3-2 series lead over the Boston Celtics to fall yet again in the Eastern Conference semifinals. It’s understandable that quotes like this one from the team’s leader are salt in the wound.

Whether Philadelphia fans like to admit it or not, pandering to an extent is part of the job in the city. At least appearing fully dedicated to the team you’re currently on is part of the gig. If you do that, this city will support you through your failures and celebrate your successes. Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies is a prime example of someone who thrives on this. Tell the fans you want to win here and only here — even if underneath, it’s a bold-faced lie — and this city will support you.

Embiid is not the best at this at times, and that’s undeniable. That being said, the “he wants out of Philly now” mentality toward this Embiid snippet might be taking it a step too far. This is hardly the first time the big man has had quotes that toy with the idea of him maybe playing somewhere else someday. One can see it as him hoping to leave, but another could just as easily see it as him being realistic about the business he is in. Players in this league rarely play their entire career in one spot, whether they want to or not.

Back in April of this year, Embiid told AndScape what it would mean for him to bring a championship to the City of Brotherly Love, again with an interesting caveat:

“It would mean everything. I’ve always said that it would be nice to play for one team for your whole career,” Embiid said. “It would be fun, but sometimes you also want new challenges and all that stuff. But it would mean a lot. I’ve been here for such a long time, but it would just validate all the suffering and all the hard work that we put in.”

It’s that “sometimes you want new challenges” that set off Sixers’ fans, and understandably so, to the point where the rest of the quote is forgotten. The arguments against it are easy to imagine: Embiid has yet to win a championship or even make it to an Eastern Conference Finals in Philadelphia... how’s about accomplishing those challenged before setting sights on new ones?

And who can forget this gem from the Sixers’ rough start to the 2022-23 season? Luckily, a lot of the city was distracted at the time by the Phillies’ playoff run, and Embiid was probably just trolling here, but it’s another example of Embiid maybe not reading the temperature of the fanbase very well before opening his mouth.

All this is to say that, though the video posted Monday is a prime example of Embiid inexcusably not reading the room with an already-frustrated fanbase, it’s important to realize that him saying these sorts of things is nothing new and he’s not going anywhere right now. At worst, maybe he said “or anywhere else” to put a little pressure on the organization not to fall into complacency around him, but it’s far from him asking to be traded.

The bottom line is simply this: this attitude is not new for Embiid, he hasn’t asked to be moved out of Philly, and the Sixers’ have no desire to move their star.

At least not yet.

Update: 11:58

Did “Troel” just send the entire fan base into a tizzy for nothing?

This is exhausting.

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