Can Joel be the leader this team needs?
There certainly has not been a shortage of drama and entertainment surrounding Joel Embiid this season. So pretty much status quo. We all know what Joel Embiid is capable of and the type of rare, elite talent he possesses. Joel put that rare, elite talent on display for us firsthand on Thursday night vs. the Nets. With a stat line of 39 points /16 rebounds / 18-19 from free throw line, 10-20 from the field. Just pure dominance. Not calling for the ball, but demanding it. Scoring in every facet imaginable and add a nasty euro step for the icing on the cake.
The Gossip Tour
After Embiid got suspended for two games for the "altercation" with KAT in October, Joel came out and "buried" his personality. Stating he would stop being immature and talking trash on social media as well as the hardwood. What followed was multiple occasions where Embiid questioned the meaning of life and stating how unhappy he is.
The gossip amped up after Super Bowl Sunday when an Instagram post landed all over headlines showing Embiid and the crew hanging with Michael Rubin, owner (one of) of the team only to be followed up with an ugly blowout loss the next night in Miami. Questions about Embiid as a leader followed.
"Is he mature enough to lead this team" / "Does he miss Jimmy Butler?" / "Do Embiid and Simmons hate each other?" / "Can they coexist?" ....
A lot of this gossip listed was unfair, some of it fair and self inflicted. But the bottom line is this, fair or unfair none of this surrounds teams with the names Giannis, Lebron, Kawhi, insert any of the biggest names who are also known leaders of their squad.
Let us remember, Joel Embiid is only 25 years old. But on a team that has had a new roster essentially every 4 months the last 3 years, the only place to look to find this teams leader has to be Joel Embiid. Fast forward to All Star weekend, and Joel Embiid was dominate in the game among the best in the world. Could that be the potential wake up call Joel Embiid needed? Could that be the key that "woke" Embiid's happiness up? After the big game against Brooklyn on Thursday night, Embiid called himself "THE BEST PLAYER IN THE WORLD."
The Turning Point?
The biggest moment from Thursday night was not anything that occured on the floor. It occured after the game. Brett Brown crowned Joel Embiid the "bell ringer" for his dominate performance. Embiid turned it down and told the Coach and the team that Burks was the deserving bell ringer. The team started clapping and roaring and it was a nice little moment. A nice little moment, yes. But a big sign that Embiid is growing up and molding in to that leader this team desperately needs. Lets hope we continue to see the "happy" Embiid. Just like "Happy Gilmore" , maybe Joel has finally found his happy place. Now all he has to do is "tap it in" AKA lead this team down the 26 game stretch as they prepare for what we hope to be a deep playoff run.