It’s time for Joel Embiid to tone down the extracurricular antics.
No more waving goodbye to players who foul out. No more social media craziness.
Of course, this won’t happen. Embiid seems to revel in the litany of ancillary antics associated with the game.
Is it fun? Yes.
It it necessary? No.
All it’s doing right now is amping up the opponent.
On Friday night, the Sixers lost an epic triple-overtime thriller to the Oklahoma City Thunder. When Steven Adams fouled out, Embiid waved goodbye to Adams. Russell Westbrook took exception and you could tell.
Westbrook threw down a vicious dunk and eventually dished off the game-winning assist to Andre Roberson at the end of the third overtime.
“I was telling him to ‘go home,’” Westbrook said, referring to what he did when the final buzzer sounded. “He was talking mess when Steve-O (Adams) fouled out, waving to the crowd, which is unnecessary.”
That it was.
Embiid scored 34 points and added eight rebounds and six assists. He has scored at least 20 points in seven consecutive games, dating to Nov. 27. It’s the second-longest streak of his career.
Embiid has scored in double figures in every game he has played in this season and in 38 straight overall. He’s one of 13 players in the league to score 10-plus points in 23 or more straight games this season.
The talent is unquestionable.
After playing a career-high 48 minutes and appearing to wince when he held his lower back, the next week and beyond will be interesting to see. How will his body respond with a sketchy injury history?
Embiid needs to channel his passion.
“He told me to go home,” Embiid said when asked about Westbrook. “I mean this is my home, so I guess it’s time for him to go home. They won the game. I give them a lot of credit. He did a lot of things, but the dude shot 10 of 33. I wish I would have shot 33 times. I guess we would have had a better chance of actually winning the game. But you know, he told me to go home. This is my home and I ain’t going nowhere.”
Westbrook posted a triple-double, the 10th of the season and 89th of his career. Even with his shot a bit off, he managed 17 rebounds and 15 assists and controlled the game through the overtimes.
Check through NBA history and look up players like Larry Bird and Oscar Robertson. They would post poor shooting nights yet have complete control of the game with all-around stellar performances.
Embiid played a terrific game. He’s an All-Star right now with potential that is so untapped it’s scary.
If he can somehow figure out how to channel his energy, he can be even more dangerous.