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'I'm trying to win a f****** title' – 76ers star Joel Embiid

By Sacha Pisani
Joel Embiid

New York, January 16: Joel Embiid said "I'm trying to win a f***** title" as the Philadelphia 76ers star craves NBA glory following last season's heartbreaking playoff exit.

The 76ers are championship contenders in 2020 after re-signing Tobias Harris and adding Al Horford and Josh Richardson to a roster headlined by All-Stars Embiid and Ben Simmons.

Embiid is seen as the key to Philadelphia's title hopes and the popular center is hellbent on winning a ring after being left in tears when the 76ers suffered a buzzer-beating defeat to eventual champions the Toronto Raptors in last season's Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Recovering from a finger injury, Embiid – whose 76ers last won a championship in 1982-83 – wrote in The Players' Tribune: "You know, we all came into this year talking about how bad we want a title. We're pretty good at talking, myself included. But it's not enough just to talk it. You gotta walk it. You gotta bring it every single night. And that includes me, too.

"Listen, I know it sucks that I'm out. Nobody feels worse than me about it. But it's just a finger. It's nothing. Compared to what I've been through, it's nothing man.

"I'm going to be back. And we're going to get this thing right. And we're going to be a problem in the playoffs, I promise you. But I have to say it now — the one thing I'm not going to do is change who I am as a basketball player.

"I got nothing but love for the legends of the game like Shaq [Shaquille O'Neal] and Charles (Barkley). So I respect what they're saying about my game. But I'm never going to be the kind of traditional big like Shaq was in the '90s. You can't go down to the post every single time down the floor and have success in this league. Not in 2020. Not with the way the game has evolved. Not with the way teams double-team now. You have to be able to spread the floor and pass the ball and get buckets all over the court.

"It doesn't matter if you're a guard or a 7-footer, you need to be versatile to win in this league. You need to be unpredictable. Yes, I idolised guys like Dream (Hakeem Olajuwon). I watched hours and hours of Dream every single day, literally. Everybody knows that story. But you know who I love watching now? KD (Kevin Durant), (James) Harden, even point guards like Steph (Curry) and CP3 (Chris Paul). For me, that's where the game is the most interesting right now.

"Above everything, I'm a student of the game. That's the only way I was able to pick it up in such a short amount of time. You can't just be a Big on the block anymore. You need to be a basketball player.

"If we're going to win a title, I gotta be a little bit of Dream, and a little bit of [Allen] Iverson, and a little bit of Kooooobeeeeeeeeeeeeee (Kobe Bryant). That's the way I'm always going to see myself.

"And I know you guys on TV want me to score 35 on the block every night. I know it. I hear you. But I gotta be honest with you. This isn't 1995. This is 2020. I'm not working every single day to be the next Dream. There's only one Dream. There's only one Shaq. I'm not trying to be the best Big ever. I'm trying to be the best basketball player in the league, and I really believe I can be that.

"I'm done with the trash talking and the memes and all that. Once I'm holding that trophy in my hands, maybe I'll be back to my charming self. For now, I got one thing on my mind. I'm not trying to win a debate. I'm trying to win a f***** title."

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Story first published: Thursday, January 16, 2020, 10:20 [IST]
Other articles published on Jan 16, 2020
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