Embiid: "I Owe the City a Championship"

Last we heard from Joel Embiid, he sounded determined to make the most of the NBA offseason.

Three months later, nothing’s changed.

In fact, the three-time All-Star sounds more focused than ever to take the Sixers to the next level.

On a crisp mid-November night, Studio 76 cameras caught up with Embiid briefly following one of his recent conditioning workouts. During this particular session, he dabbled in two of his other favorite sports, tennis and soccer.

Here’s what the big man had to say.

Brian Seltzer: Tell us what you’re doing out here tonight.

Joel Embiid: “For the past month and a half, almost two months, I’ve been doing basketball basically every single day trying to get better and stay in shape because last year was very disappointing." 

BS: How motivated are you right now?

JE: It’s tough. Last year we didn’t win. We thought we could accomplish winning the whole thing. We didn’t even come close. Obviously, we had bad luck with injuries and stuff, but that should never be an excuse. For me, as you know, it was kinda ridiculous I didn’t make any All-NBA teams, and that sucks. It was kind of like a punch in the gut. It was very disappointing.

“I got to do better. I got to go back to the Joel Embiid from two years ago, when I averaged 28 points and was the best defensive player in the league. I also need a little bit of luck with injuries. That’s why I’ve been working so hard to trim down and just stay in shape and keep on getting better. The skills are there. I just need to keep working and perfect it. As soon as we lost [in Orlando] and after having a baby, I just wanted to come back in and do what I got to do.” 

BS: With all the time you’ve spent working out this offseason, do you see it as an example of leadership?

JE: “For sure. I’ve always done it, but a lot people have the perception of me not working hard or playing hard, but I do. I try my best and, as you can see, I’ve been going at it for quite a while. Before the bubble I was in the gym every single day for nearly two months just trying to stay ready, trying to accomplish what we set out to do, but I like to be private about it, working on my family, myself. [Whatever] the perception is, that’s fine. But I owe the city a championship, and that’s why I keep working so hard because I need to make it happen. That’s why I was brought here. I need to make it happen.”

BS: What do you think about the team hiring Doc Rivers and Daryl Morey?

JE: “I thought it was great. Obviously, we made a lot of big changes, and I’d always like to think it starts from the top. It’s nothing against the guys who have been here. I’ve been here the longest, and I want to be here the rest of my career. I’ve seen a lot of changes come in and out, and this summer we decided to make these changes. 

“Daryl, I think he’s going to be great. I’ve talked to him a lot. We like to talk about basketball, but you can relate with someone when you can just talk about life. You can just sit there [with him], you can talk about anything really. I feel like that’s where our connection has been and obviously about basketball, how we can improve the team and make it better.

“I’m excited about working for Coach Rivers. Coach Rivers has a great track record. I’m excited for him to come in and lead us and put us on the right track.”

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