Heart palpitations last night after Joel Embiid went on Instagram and dropped a cryptic post with this caption:
“You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
Harvey Dent quote from The Dark Knight. Russ wrote up the story and included the response from Jimmy Butler, who said, “I know a place where villains are welcome,” which got everybody all flustered. Was he recruiting Embiid to Miami? Was this just another bullshit slab of NBA drama? Was it trolling?
It was trolling, with Embiid posting this less than an hour later:
— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) February 11, 2020
It’s just Joel giving it back to the fans, which he’s perfectly entitled to do. They clap at him, he claps back, and then hopefully starts playing like himself again.
More than anything, this is feels like a return to the old Embiid, who was jovial and playful on social media, who talked some shit and was slightly immature. He’s spoken openly, on more than one occasion, about finding that balance between growing up a bit and still being the cheeky bloke he’s always been.
You might recall this exchange from just two months ago:
Joel Embiid was asked about hyping up the crowd during today's win over the Nuggets. He took it in an unexpected direction.
"Everybody tells me that I gotta be mature. So I'm doing it. And I don't think it's working, but I'm gonna keep doing it."
Full exchange below. pic.twitter.com/66BfGs63ps
— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) December 11, 2019
I feel like Jo has always been very smart from a pure intelligence point of view but has been back and forth kind of navigating the “wisdom” side of things, if that makes any sense. It’s sort of like “emotional intelligence,” which Jeffrey Lurie used a few years ago. Joel is really clever and knowledgeable but I think has struggled to discover his true identity as a superstar athlete in Philadelphia, which is evidenced by the up and down emotional ride he seems to embark on each season.
Either way, we know that this 1.0 version of Embiid finds more enjoyment playing the game of basketball, so maybe it’s best that he stays in this mindset for the rest of the season.