Just two days after Joel Embiid’s season was shut down “indefinitely,” a profile on Embiid, authored by Ryan Jones (former editor-in-chief of SLAM magazine), popped up on Bleacher Report. It’s really well done. We would have eaten it up last month. But now? We’re really not in the mood. Not the day that Keith Pompey said it’s best to sit Embiid for the year.
And the worst part? The feature is all about how great Embiid is and can be, and adds to his junk-eating legend:
It was only four years ago that Roberts recruited the then-lanky Cameroonian teenager to Lawrence, Kansas. Embiid was “this big brownie-eating, chocolate-loving cat” who would come to Roberts’ home and devour his wife’s homemade brownies by the tray-full.
Chugging pitchers of Shirley Temple and knocking out brownies a tray at a time? That’s a superstar. But he’s changed over the years. Embiid’s HS coach from The Rock School described a young(er) JoJo as “introverted” and “pretty quiet.” That’s not really the JoJo we know. In a pre-season practice at Kansas, assistant coach Norm Roberts gave Embiid’s squad, the team’s reserves, one gameplan: “Throw the ball to Joel every time. And Joel, try to score every time you get the ball.” That’s the JoJo we know, and it’s what all-time legends are made of: A player from overseas who has less than a handful of years experience dominating D-1 college players and shoving candy and soda into his face.
The “Joel Embiid will never play” crowd is covered in a warm bath of self-righteousness, ready to unleash a stream of “told-ya-so”s if Embiid sits the rest of the year. To the pessimists among us, this reads part-feature, part-obituary of what could have been this season. And right now, we’re all allowed to be pessimists.