Joel Embiid is one of the NBA’s most fascinating players. His on-court production, when healthy, speaks for itself, but we’ve seen hundreds of productive on-court ballers come and go. What separates Embiid from his peers is his unrivaled dedication to the entertainment side of being a professional athlete. Nobody does more for mindless internet humor than Joel Embiid.
Embiid went so far as to admit that he is basically an internet troll in a fantastic podcast with J.J. Redick that dropped on The Ringer Wednesday morning. Among the many things Redick touched on in his conversation with Embiid was his ongoing beef with Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside.
Like Embiid, Whiteside doesn’t shy away from using social media as an avenue to entertain. He’s one of the more active NBA players across Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, with highlights including his endless laughter at Snapchat’s “turnt-up hot dog.” Whiteside isn’t quite at Embiid’s level in this regard, but he’s pretty damn close. Considering how much trash both of these guys talk, it’s no surprise that they don’t like each other.
The Embiid vs. Whiteside feud really took off during a preseason game back in October where Embiid and Whiteside trash-talked each other all night, with said trash talk spilling over to social media days later. Embiid basically called him trash, Whiteside went after his injury history, and even took a shot at All-Star voting, claiming that someone like Embiid gets too much respect around the league as a player for his dumb jokes. It’s a pretty entertaining back-and-forth, and if you want to read the long version, you can do that here.
In his podcast with Redick, Embiid gave his side of the Whiteside-beef story.
Embiid: I mean, it depends. Going into my matchup, usually I just want to go out there, have fun, play basketball, dominate. But guys usually have a tendency to have something against me. So they would be extra physical or they would … talk trash to me, so … that just elevates my game. It makes me want to dominate them. It makes me want to kick their ass so I can go on social media later and just basically talk sh*t. So that’s what I did.
I mean, going back to the Whiteside stuff, it’s all fun. To me it’s all fun. I’m just trying to have fun. But these guys, I guess they get their feelings hurt. And there’s nothing you can do about it. But at the end of the day, it’s all fun. And if you want to take it off the court and keep beefing, that’s your problem. But going back to the Whiteside stuff, that was in preseason and we started a game … he was extra—too extra-physical. And then he just started talking and then I was like “Dude, it’s preseason and we’re just playing basketball. We’re just over here trying to get ready for the season and get better.” And I think he ended up fouling me three times in the first two or three minutes of the game … he was going to foul out in five minutes because I was actually going to foul him out in five minutes, and he was going to look ridiculous.
So that was on them, and then after the game—like literally right after the game—I got told that Whiteside said something about me on Twitter, so I go and look … I think I mentioned his plus/minus or whatever. And—
Redick: You said he was too worried about stats.
Embiid: Yeah, he was too worried about stats instead of winning, and then I mentioned his plus/minus like, “Dude, you don’t help your team win. At the end of the day, it’s all about winning. It’s not about stats.” So that was the thing with him.
It’s interesting to hear Embiid admit that Whiteside was playing too physical, and that’s why they started jawing. Embiid is a physical player himself, so you’d think he would enjoy that kind of competition, but when you’ve dealt with as many serious injuries as Embiid has over the years, it’s understandable that he’d prefer to take it relatively easy during the preseason.
Embiid also doubled-down on his previous comments that Whiteside is too worried about stats instead of winning. If we know anything about Hassan Whiteside, he isn’t going to let Embiid have the last word, so, I wouldn’t expect this beef to go away anytime soon.