Joel Embiid is one of the NBA’s budding young stars. After teasing fans with an awe-inspiring rookie season that was again cut short after 31 games by injury, Embiid has come out in 2017-18 and built on that success with more frequent play and, to this point, similar incredible production.
His play on the court is a major factor in him becoming a star, but his social media presence separates him from so many others in the league. Where some players are a mystery, Embiid at least feels like an open book. His constant tweets and Instagram posts taking jabs at opponents brings trash talk to the public, who can see it plainly and revel in the pettiness, rather than trying to read lips when players bark at each other on the court.
For Embiid, those social media posts are a motivational tool for himself as much as they are for opponents. He knows he’ll be on the receiving end of trash talk and when that happens or someone tries to push him around, it offers him a little added juice. Not just to shut them up, but Embiid revels in the opportunity to hop on social media and, as he tells it, “talk sh*t.”
Embiid spoke with teammate J.J. Redick on Redick’s podcast on The Ringer on Wednesday’s episode and explained how his Twitter and Instagram trolling actually motivates him to play better and dominate opponents.
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 shit. So that’s what I did.
He also explained his hilarious trend of finding locations that take shots at opponents on Instagram, most notably finding a Lavar, Iran after dropping 46 points on the Lakers.
The Iran one? It’s actually funny. When I, like, go to one location I want to put on my pictures, it’s just—I mean, the LaVar one, obviously I dropped 46, and I don’t have any problems with the Ball family. I actually love what they’re doing, especially off the court with like having their own brand and stuff. I’m a big fan. And like I said, it’s all fun. And back during the summer, he said something about me … So that other game was kind of marked on my calendar to just play against his son. And I don’t have anything against his son either … I think he’s going to be really good, and I’m a big fan. I think he’s going to be a really good point guard in the league, but I mean, that game was marked on my calendar. I couldn’t wait to play just to show the Lakers fans and LaVar Ball that I can actually play. And … I’m sure he saw that I could actually play, so I just had to, like, take a shot at him after the game and basically not call him out but just have fun. LaVar. I was actually surprised—I actually—they had a location that said Lavar … on Instagram.
Embiid is extremely self-aware of his social media presence, and while he’s as open as any star on social, everything he does (for the most part) seems to be with some thought behind it. Embiid even admitted to being a troll when Redick asked if he thought he was, saying, “Yeah, I mean, the fans do it to us so why not?” Some, like Draymond Green, love it. Others, not so much.
The Sixers’ young star has been fined for his social media posting before, when he used some profanity in the direction of LaVar Ball, but in general, he knows where the line is and keeps it fairly fun unless someone like Whiteside gets their feelings hurt and attacks him. Embiid may be an unrepentant Twitter troll, but at least he’s able to back it up with his play on the court.