Embiid all-in for great career

Posted: August 08, 2014

FOR THE SHORT time that Joel Embiid has graced the NBA with his comical, candid character, he's always had a bigger goal in mind: getting back to the hardwood.

So it was no surprise that the big man spoke freely about his new team and his new town, especially when it came to the plan Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie has made a foundation in Philadelphia.

Embiid has no choice but to wait as he heals from a foot injury that could sideline him for the upcoming season, but that hasn't stopped him from endorsing the Sixers' rebuilding plan.

"I feel like I could do some great things here," Embiid said yesterday in a phone interview.

"This year, I think the team is going to show a lot . . . but when I come back they will have more players and they are building a great team. I just like the fact that we have to be patient with the growth and it's going to come by our hard work. We just have to work hard to get better."

The 7-foot, 250-pounder from Cameroon was the third overall pick by the Sixers in this year's NBA draft and since then, Embiid has been the life of the social-media party for fans.

After playing 28 games and averaging 11.2 points and 8.1 rebounds as a freshman at Kansas, Embiid took his talents to the Twitter-sphere. He already has asked Kim Kardashian to "slide in his direct messages," and has been avidly courting singer Rihanna, once asking her on a date to Giorgios. But Embiid claimed he was just "enjoying himself" in the best way he knew how while recovering from his injury.

"I'm just having fun, I'm just messing around," Embiid said with a chuckle. "I'm a 20-year-old kid and I just figured that's a way to have fun safely and I can do anything . . . you have to worry about your image. Everyone looks up to you and people like it when I'm funny on Twitter. During the season, that's probably not a good idea."

Embiid has spent the week in New York at the NBA's Rookie Transition Program, the longest- running and most extensive athlete support system in professional sports.

Created in 1986, the RTP is a series of presentations developed by the NBA and the players association to provide first-year players with the skills and information necessary for a successful transition to the pros. It is mandatory for first-year players and conducted by NBA and NBPA personnel.

Another thing the RTP has done is connect former Kansas stars. At the program, Embiid is joined by ex-teammate Andrew Wiggins, who, according to reports yesterday, will be traded from the Cavaliers to the Timberwolves in a package deal that sends Kevin Love to Cleveland. The deal cannot be completed until Aug. 23, when Wiggins' becomes eligible to be traded.

Embiid said that amid the trade buzz, he reassured his "brother" Wiggins that their NBA careers were going to be great, no matter where they end up.

"I heard about all the rumors that he's getting traded, but I didn't talk to him about it," Embiid said. "We've just talked about this great career we are going to have and we are talking about our life and how our careers are going to shape up."

And despite everything he's heard about his new home, after taking a tour of the City of Brotherly Love, Embiid has warmed up to living in the area. Even if he did pick Pat's over Geno's.

"I really love the city," Embiid said. "I didn't expect Philly to be like this and I really like it, and I've been to some of the places and I like it."

On Twitter: @TylerRickyTynes

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