Joel Embiid might have the most fire quotes in the NBA at the moment—the Philadelphia Sixers rookie says that he learned to shoot the ball by observing white folks.
Embiid will make his long-awaited debut tonight.
— Lee Jenkins (@SI_LeeJenkins) October 26, 2016
The 22-year-old big fella was so frustrated last year, that he thought about walking away from the game altogether.
Last October, the day before the first anniversary of (his 13-year-old brother) Arthur’s death, The Cauldron ran a distressing story about Embiid’s arduous rehab. Ensuing headlines focused on his exaggerated affection for Shirley Temples. You’d have thought he was chugging Moonshine laced with grenadine. Upset by both timing and content, Embiid considered quitting the NBA and returning to Cameroon, where he could honor his brother in peace. Maybe he’d go back to volleyball, his first chosen sport. His father had warned him about the dangers of hoops.
“I wanted to get away from all this drama,” Embiid recalls, “and stay away.” He had been in America for four years and lived in four cities, a hardwood nomad, always moving alone. “I never had a girlfriend before, but back then I had some type of girlfriend.” Embiid says. “One day I told her my whole story.”
“I don’t know anything about basketball,” the girlfriend responded. “But all that sounds pretty amazing to me.” They eventually broke up, but her words stuck. “She’s right,” Embiid thought. “My life is like a movie.” His brother, whom he believes is watching, deserved to see the end. […] When Embiid was injured, he did not grant interviews, so he has a lot to say. He speaks with a French accent, in a flowing stream of consciousness, about everything from Cameroon’s educational system to Florida’s topography to Marc Gasol’s jab step. He is engaging, charismatic and funny, but unlike many foreign big men, his humor is intentional. “You know how I learned to shoot?” Embiid says. “I watched white people. Just regular white people. They really put their elbow in and finish up top. You can find videos of them online.”