New York, February 12: Joel Embiid expressed his love for the Philadelphia 76ers and their fans after being booed, shushing supporters and posting a cryptic social media post.
Amid criticism of NBA championship hopefuls the 76ers, Embiid was the target of boos in Sunday's 118-111 win over the Chicago Bulls in Philadelphia, where the All-Star responded by shushing the crowd following a three-pointer.
On Monday (February 10), Embiid sparked doubts over his future when he posted a photo of himself shushing 76ers fans, with the caption: "You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain".
That drew a response from former 76ers team-mate and Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler, who said: "I know a place where villains are welcome".
Embiid replied, "Damn right my brother."
Shortly afterwards, Embiid then wrote: "Made for this… If I can take it then you can too. PHILA TOUGH!!! #AllLove".
Embiid addressed the backlash on Tuesday after helping the 76ers past the Los Angeles Clippers 110-103 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
"They've been going at me, I went back at them," a smiling Embiid told reporters post-game. "We're all human beings, if I can take it, then everybody else can take it too.
"We move on, we learn from it, we move on. I've got to do a better job, they've got to do a better job. I understand where they come from, but then again, if you dish it, you've got to be able to take it back."
Drafted by the 76ers with the third pick in 2014, Embiid added: "It's all love. I love my city. I've been here for a long time now, we have a special relationship, and I’m happy to be here. I can't wait for the future, especially this year. I think we can accomplish something great."
"Tonight, I could've shushed them again, but it was all about having fun again. Just getting back to my myself, like I said last game, I'm back to doing whatever I want and say," continued Embiid, who posted 26 points and nine rebounds against the Clippers.
"That's how I used to be and I was dominating that way. This year, I made a decision to change and I guess it hasn't worked out so it comes with the good and bad. If it helps us win, then I'm going to be that guy."