Joel Embiid has carved out a niche as one of the most entertaining basketball players on earth, but as it turns out, his career nearly came to a screeching halt upon arriving at the University of Kansas. Embiid penned a piece for The Players’ Tribune on Friday, one which documented some of the memorable moments his hoops career.
One of the lowest points came during his first practice with the Jayhawks basketball team, which included getting viciously dunked on by senior big man Tarik Black. In Embiid’s words, it was so bad that he went online and looked for flights home.
My very first scrimmage at Kansas, I got dunked on so hard by Tarik Black that I almost quit. Tarik dunked on me so hard that I was looking at plane tickets home. This guy was a senior. He was a grown man. I didn’t know what was going on. He got his own rebound and dunked over me so hard that everything went in slow motion.
He dunked the ball off my head, for real. But I didn’t even tell you the worst part. The worst part was that the entire Kansas women’s hoops team was sitting in the bleachers watching the scrimmage. The whole gym was laughing at me. It was crazy. Seriously, it was like a WORLDSTAR situation.
Embiid went on to say that the incident led to him going into Bill Self’s office and asking for a redshirt, which led to the coach saying “What? Are you serious? In two years, you’re going to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.” Of course, Self’s prediction didn’t come true: Embiid ended up being the No. 3 pick in the following year’s NBA Draft, and might have gone first overall if not for a poorly-timed foot injury.
Things ended up working out pretty well for Embiid, both during his time at Kansas and up to this point in his NBA career. Still, it’s crazy to think that Embiid nearly called it quits because he got put on a poster by a college teammate during a scrimmage.
(Via The Players Tribune)