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5 things to know about Joel Embiid

The Sixers star is dominating the game, racking up around 20 free throws per game. But he wasn’t always the confident basketball player we know and love.


Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid has been made even better with the presence of James Harden on the team. Even without Harden, though, Embiid is in the running for this year’s NBA MVP. He’s the current league leader in scoring with 29.5 points per game. His road to get here though was anything but typical for a basketball star. Here are five things to know about Sixers center Joel Embiid.

Embiid's main sport growing up was volleyball

Joel Embiid grew up in Camaroon and his father, who was a handball player, wanted Embiid to pursue a professional career in Europe as a volleyball player. Boy, did that go differently than planned. Embiid didn’t actually start playing basketball until he was 15 years old. A recruiter saw him play at Luc Mbah a Moute’s basketball camp when he was 16 and offered him to come play in the United States. His father allowed it, and we thank him.

Embiid thinks he would be playing for the Camaroon national soccer team if it weren’t for the NBA

His dad may have wanted him to play volleyball, but Embiid thinks he’d be playing soccer for the Camaroon national team if he weren’t playing basketball. He’s an avid soccer fan and stated once that he thinks he is probably the best pro soccer player in the NBA.

Embiid was drafted into the NBA just one year after playing college ball

His journey to the NBA was a fast one. A few years of high school basketball, one year playing for the Kansas Jayhawks, and then he was drafted third overall in the 2014 NBA draft to the 76ers. His debut was delayed because of injuries, but since then, he’s just continued to improve and impress, becoming one of the best in the league.

Embiid learned how to shoot by looking up “white people shooting 3-pointers”

This may be hard to believe right now, as Embiid is the leading scorer in the NBA, but he was actually bullied in high school…for not knowing how to shoot. In fact, he nearly gave up on the sport altogether because of it. Thankfully, he had YouTube to help him out. He told the story on “It’s Story Time”. A 2018 Player’s Tribune piece.

“So I’m chilling one night, and I go on YouTube, and I’m thinking I’m about to figure this shooting thing out. I go to the search box like….
Then the light bulb went off, man. I typed in the magic words.


Listen, I know it’s a stereotype, but have you ever seen a normal, 30-year-old white guy shoot a three-pointer? That elbow is tucked, man. The knees are bent. The follow-through is perfect. Always.”

Whatever works, Joel.

Embiid joined two Hall-of-Famers as the only three Sixers to score 50+ points in multiple games

Along with Allen Iverson and Wilt Chamberlain, Embiid is one of just three players to score more 50 points or more in multiple games for the 76ers, not to mention whilst getting those 50 points (and ten rebounds) in the fewest minutes (27) of any NBA player since 1955. Don't underestimate this one.


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