There is an NBA school of thought revolving around the idea that the ball should always be in the hands of your best player. The idea is that anytime your best player is on the floor, the offense and primary decision-making should run through him. Well, I am here to tell you that this is nothing more than a myth...
Debunking NBA Myths: Joel Embiid is Lazy
This is perhaps one of the most frustrating myths that currently exists in the NBA, the idea that Joel Embiid is a lazy player. This is despite the fact that both current and ex-teammates and coaches regularly speak of his high work ethic, not to mention his incredible on-court performances.
NBA myths can be dangerous and its time someone does something about it. With this series, we attack and debunk the most outrageous NBA myths. We've talked about Lonzo Ball and Dwight Howard, today, we debunk the myth that Joel Embiid is a lazy player.
Joel Embiid has played four full seasons in the NBA, and outside of his rookie year, where he averaged 20 points and 8 rebounds, he has yet to average less than 22.9 points and 11 rebounds a game.
He has set the bar so high that this last season where critics tore him apart and blamed him for his team's shortcomings, he still averaged 23 points and 12 rebounds a game.
In 2018-19, he averaged 28 points and 14 rebounds a game, finished top 5 in DPOY voting, and top 7 in MVP voting.
In 2017-18, he finished second to Rudy Gobert in the DPOY race.
None of these accomplishments look like those of a "lazy" player. So why do people keep telling you lies about Joel Embiid??
The answer is not clear, but there is something dangerous happening with this myth and how the media chooses favorites.
For example, with Nikola Jovic, his weight gain is funny and amusing because he is still so dominant. But for Joel Embiid, those same attributes are described in a far more nefarious manner.
For as much as the media and NBA analysts joke about and compliment Jokic's play despite his size, they often describe Joel Embiid as a lazy problematic player who refuses to stay in shape.
It begs the question of if this is an instance of racial stereotyping, or if it's a dislike for the player's personality, maybe a combination of both.
Because race alone doesn't explain this situation. Some black ex-players turned analysts like Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley, and Tracy McGrady have been on record, echoing criticisms about his work ethic and labeling him a lazy player.
When pressed for evidence, they'll hide behind the eye-test claim. But just because a player doesn't spend 48 minutes diving for loose balls doesn't make him/her lazy. Admittedly, Joel Embiid's playing style can look lethargic, but it stops at that. That's his natural build and movement at 7 feet tall. It has nothing to do with the effort he is exerting.
It gets worse when you consider that the narrative as no base in reality. As I said earlier, ex-teammates and coaches speak glowingly of his work ethic.
Richaun Holmes, a current Sacramento King, and former teammate of Joel Embiid was quoted saying,
"He works so hard just to get himself in shape, get himself physically ready to step on the court. He wanted to play so badly every day that I saw him. Behind the scenes, he's such a hard worker"
"Behind the scenes, he's such a hard worker."
That's the quote for me. Just because Embiid doesn't spam social media with videos of him in the gym or post a carefully crafted picture of him getting up extra shots after a heartbreaking loss doesn't mean he is lazy or not putting in the work.
Now, whether you like Joel Embiid and his antics on and off the court is another discussion. What is not up for discussion is his work ethic, so stop pretending like it is.
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