There's no denying Sixers rookie Joel Embiid has a crush on Rihanna. He's admitted to that several times before, including during a sit down interview with teammate Jahlil Okafor and SportsCenter anchor/Philly guy Kevin Negandhi.
And if you follow him on Twitter, then you're well aware that he's been longing for a date with Rihanna for quite some time.
But the 28-year-old entertainer isn't the only celeb with a special place in Embiid's heart -- you may remember his ill-fated attempt to get Kim Kardashian to slide into his DMs before he moved on to Rihanna.
So when he tweeted out last month that he needed help getting voted into the NBA All-Star Game in order to secure a date with his celebrity crush -- he's currently just behind Kevin Love for the final starting spot -- everyone assumed that he was talking about Rihanna, including the Sixers.
During a timeout in Wednesday's 98-97 buzzer-beating win over the Knicks, the Sixers even played a video of her being interviewed about Embiid (although her answers were clearly clipped from a previous interview she did and taken totally out of context). They're clearing trying to get their star a spot on the East squad -- and a date with his crush.
Only it's apparently not Rihanna.
On Wednesday, prior to his team's, Embiid joined The Dan LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio to discuss his road to the NBA, the struggles that come with being 7-foot-2 and, of course, the aforementioned crush, which he definitively said is not Rihanna -- unless he was lying.
Here's the back and forth:
LeBATARD: You’ve been pushing to make the All-Star Game. Is it true — is this a true story or are you making this up — that a woman, a famous woman, you were hitting on her and she said, "Come back when you’re an all-star?" Is that true of false?
EMBIID: It’s a true story. It’s not who everybody thinks it is. But the story is actually true.
LeBATARD: So it’s not Rihanna? Because everybody thinks it’s Rihanna.
EMBIID: No. [Laugh]
LeBATARD: OK, well I’m wondering who it is then. Why are you keeping her a secret?
EMBIID: I mean, if I make the All-Star Game, everyone’s going to find out who the woman is. But I think it’s just funny so that’s why I’ve been using that to get some more votes and people —
LeBATARD: Wait a minute, so you’re actually going to get a date with this woman and unveil this date if you do indeed make the All-Star Game?
EMBIID: Yeah. [Laugh]
LeBATARD: So you’re gonna get the date? You know you need— OK, so this is the first time this has ever been done in the history of the All-Star Game.
[Embiid continues to laugh]
STUGOTZ: What if he doesn’t make it this year and makes it next year and by next year she’s taken?
LeBATARD: Well, OK, wait a minute. What is going to happen there?
EMBIID: Uh, I think she’s going to have to leave her man for me because— she’s just going to have to leave her man for me. That’s how it goes. [Laugh]
When LeBatard pressed for more information about who the crush might be, Embiid wouldn't budge. And the only clue he would give is that “she’s pretty; she’s cute."
"That’s all I can say right now," he added. "I can’t say too much.”
That being said, it wouldn't shock me if Embiid is bluffing. It just seems like too much of a coincidence that this tweet ...
... came less than a month after he began publicly professing his love for Rihanna.
And if it's not Rihanna, then who is it?
It seems like the only way to find out is to vote Embiid into the All-Star Game. You can do so by tweeting "Joel Embiid" [or any other player's first and last name] followed by "#NBAVOTE." You can also vote on NBA.com or by simply putting "NBA vote" into your Google search bar.
Polls close on Jan. 16 and the starting lineups (based on fan, media and player voting) are announced a few days later.
[Listen to the entire Embiid interview from Wednesday's Dan LeBatard Show, here.]
Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin