January 13, 2017
As much as he has shined on the court this season — Averaging 19 and 8 in only 25 minutes per game as a rookie isn’t to be taken lightly — Joel Embiid has also taken the NBA by storm on social media. In a league that is followed obsessively online by a fan base that trends younger, the 22-year-old big man is unquestionably the league’s most colorful personality.
“I think I kind of represent Twitter in the NBA,” Embiid said. “But I never thought I would have this type of influence, and like I said, I’m just trying to be me. If people enjoy it, that’s great.”
After Friday’s team shootaround, Sixers “third-year rookie” was then asked if there are other NBA players that he likes to follow on social media.
“I don’t know, they’re all boring,” Embiid said.
“I don’t really go through my timeline, so I don’t really get to see what anybody else tweets. When I go on Twitter, I just tweet away, laugh at it, and leave. So I don’t really pay attention to it, but KD used to be great back in the day.”
In what was a perfect storm, the NBA took to Twitter for all-star voting in Embiid’s first year. And in a blend of fan photoshops/GIFs, celebrity endorsements, and Embiid’s own special brand of madness, the man who dubbed himself “The Process” is nipping at Kevin Love’s heels for third place and a starting spot in the Eastern Conference frontcourt*.
*Fan voting does only make up half of the process (sorry, unavoidable) for selecting all-star starters.
“Last night was Triple H, that was amazing,” Embiid said. “Meek Mill is family, a Philly guy. There’s been a lot of people giving me votes, helping me out.”
And, of course, there was that time Donald Trump came calling.
“I was shocked,” Embiid said. “I just saw it on Twitter, I was really shocked. I was like, ‘That’s the president of the United States giving me a shoutout.'”
OK, so maybe that last one wasn’t exactly real. But it does go to show the savvy that Embiid has when he’s not raining threes or blocking shots. He also seems very self-aware for such a young player, knowing full well the potential pitfalls of showing so much personality, the very reason why so many of his peers choose to be “boring” in the public eye.
“In the back of my head, I think this is going to backfire at some point,” Embiid said. “Before that day comes, I’m going to keep on going.”
Here are some of the greatest hits during Embiid’s #NBAVote campaign:
Joel Embiid #NBAVote if you trust the process RT this ....— Ben Simmons (@BenSimmons25) January 10, 2017
(I had to cap this last group, because they’re all over the place. On the photoshops, Embiid said, “I love it, I always go through them and save most of them.”)
And hey, there’s still time. Fan voting ends in a couple of days, but Embiid won’t shut it down once the #NBAVote campaign dies down. He’s having too much fun for that.
“Everything I tweet, it’s like, ‘Should I do this?’" Embiid said. “And then I just start laughing, so everything I do on social media is really funny to me. I actually think I have the best laugh out of anybody.”
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann