It’s not the foul language from Toronto Raptors fans that necessarily hurt Joel Embiid’s feelings. The 7-footer is man enough to absorb the verbal attacks even if they are excessive and unwarranted. But the Philadelphia 76ers star doesn’t like being bullied and not being allowed to fight back.
The NBA has a problematic double standard when it comes to players and fans, according to Embiid. He wishes the league would do more to protect their employees from hostile crowds – like what he encountered during the last round in Toronto – especially since young children can sometimes be subject to R-rated material.
“It’s been going on in a few arenas these days where fans feel like it’s okay to just say F somebody,” Embiid told reporters. “There’s a bunch of kids in the arena, I don’t think that should be okay even if wasn’t kids. But it’s almost like, if you respond to it, it’s almost like, in the Draymond [Green] situation, the league fines you.”
Embiid was referencing Green getting fined $25,000 after he raised the middle finger toward Memphis Grizzlies fans in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals. They were booing him as he walked off the court to get stitches for a lacerated eye. Embiid thought it was unfair that Green couldn’t defend himself.
“So, to me, it doesn’t bother me, I’m just speaking for really everybody in the NBA,” Embiid said. “If you give it, you also got to be able to take it. And I’ve said it about our fans, too, when they boo, if the players are going to go back, you got to be able to take it, too.”
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Pascal Siakam Didn’t Intentionally Injure Him
The reason Embiid was wearing a protective mask on Friday night was thanks to an elbow to the face from Pascal Siakam in garbage-time minutes at the end of Game 6. Raptors fans – the same ones who booed Embiid mercilessly in that series – cheered the fact that the Sixers star got hurt on the play. Ditto for the Toronto announcers who felt Embiid deserved it for his airplane celebration.
While everyone has moved on from that series, Embiid had some lingering thoughts he wanted to get off his chest. He didn’t think Siakam intentionally tried to injure him. (Remember, the two players are natives of Cameroon on friendly terms). However, the behavior from the Toronto fans left a bad taste in his mouth.
“It’s unfortunate. I don’t think he meant to do it,” Embiid said of Siakam. “I was more irritated by the perception of when that happened, really their fans. I’ve always thought they’ve had great fans but it kind of changed my mind about their fans up there [in Canada].”
Embiid Makes His Presence Felt in Game 3
Embiid scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in 36 minutes in his debut in the second round of the playoffs. Those numbers look decent on paper but it was the energy and passion he brought to the floor that had his head coach smiling. Embiid really asserted his presence at the defensive end.
“His energy, his rebounding. His ability at the basket,” Doc Rivers said after Game 3. “I’ve said it all year, you could see his timing was off a little bit. But his presence defensively, I really don’t – I don’t think he gets enough credit for how good of a defensive player he is and how much he helps us. And I thought tonight, it was a lot of that.”