The new wave of Philadelphia 76ers fans hasn’t swept away Joel Embiid.
The Sixers center questioned the loyalty of his team’s newest supporters Wednesday, asking aloud where they (fans) were when Philly was lousy. After drafting Embiid in 2014, the Sixers won an average of just under 19 games per season in his first three years in the league. The Sixers then blossomed this year, winning 52 regular-season games and their first playoff series since 2012.
Some have picked the Sixers to defeat the Boston Celtics in the second round and possibly progress to the NBA Finals, but heightened expectations won’t change Embiid’s work habits.
“My mindset has always been, three, four years ago, no one was around, no one was talking about us,” Embiid told reporters following the Sixers’ practice, per NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato. “Anything new, that always comes, I?m like, ?That?s nice.? But like, where was everybody three or four years ago?
“I kind of hold grudges because three, four years ago we were the laughingstock of the whole NBA. Then now we?re here, everybody?s talking about us. I don?t think it makes a difference. (Philadelphia basketball legend) Sonny Hill always tells me, you can?t get too high, can?t get too low, you?ve got to always keep your balance.”
Embiid will lead the Sixers against the Celtics on Thursday night at TD Garden in Game 2. Any Sixers fans in the house might consider preparing for Embiid to check their credentials.