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October 14, 2017

Joel Embiid's beef with Hassan Whiteside was better than final preseason game

Sixers NBA

We can all be honest with one another: nobody is all that invested in the final NBA preseason game. It tends to be one last showcase for the men on the end of the bench, the players destined for the NBA Developmental League and overseas contracts.

Don't tell that to Joel Embiid. About an hour's drive from his former college stomping grounds, Embiid came out against the Miami Heat with something to prove. Part of that is just him trying to play catch up before the season opener, but there were some additional bragging rights on the line for Embiid. You see, this was his first chance to take a shot at Miami center Hassan Whiteside this season, and let's just say they don't really get along.

That much was clear in the game's opening minutes, with both centers jostling for position and refusing to cede an inch to their combatant. Whiteside looked like he would get an easy bucket in transition early in the first quarter, but Embiid was not about to let him shine.

Things only got testier from there. Before three minutes of game time had gone by, Embiid forced Whiteside into picking up three fouls, sending the talented big man to the bench before he had any chance to impact the game. Not content to let him walk back there quietly, Embiid started chirping as soon as the third foul was drawn, telling Miami's bench to make sure they got Whiteside out of there.

Every chance there was an opportunity for both centers to attack one another, they did, often to the detriment of their own offenses on Friday night. The Sixers were a much better team with Embiid on the court, but he finished the game 1/7 from the field, and Whiteside poked the bear on social media after the game.

If you thought Embiid would take that on the chin without saying anything, you haven't been paying much attention to his social media use.

Whiteside, in the midst of getting laughed off Twitter, resorted to the boring retort people cling to whenever they're locked in a debate with Embiid.

Whiteside probably shouldn't throw stones from his glass house. Embiid's only barrier to playing his first three years has been health, a factor well outside his control. Whiteside flat out wasn't good enough to play in the NBA in his first three professional seasons and ended up appearing in only 19 games during his first two years, forced to take his talents overseas for his third and fourth season. And oh by the way, his team got absolutely dominated in Friday's game, falling 119-95 to Embiid's Sixers.

For background, their mutual dislike of one another dates back to last season, when Embiid led the Sixers to an early-season win over Whiteside's Heat, and then tagged him in a picture with the location tag "BBQ Chicken" later that evening.

Whiteside fired back with shots of his own. The Miami big man jabbed at Embiid campaigning for himself for the All-Star Game last season, noting how some players got a little too into the social media game.
I really don't even want to talk about it. It's more so a gimmick. I look at guys and they just do stuff to win the fans over, make jokes on Twitter to get people to vote for them. It ain't got nothing to do really with talent.

When Embiid got wind of that set of quotes, he did what any reasonable person would do: he made another joke about the situation on Twitter.

It's honestly hard to tell at times whether these guys actually dislike each other or not, or if it's just a case of playful banter. Embiid is a big trash talker, but he's generally pretty well-liked around the league for the same reasons Sixers fans love him. Players respect his talent, they love the goofy personality that comes attached to it. Why else would he and DeMarcus Cousins have played a game of grab ass on the court last season?
But when you see the final shot took on his Instagram on Friday night... just hope he can stay on the court long enough to wage war against Whiteside again. His next shot at Whiteside doesn't come until February, when the Heat will visit the Sixers in South Philly. Expect a few boos to come down from the Philly faithful.