Embiid remembers Kobe
Fans of the Philadelphia 76ers still have to pinch themselves to believe the 2020-21 National Basketball Association season is real. At 47-21 the 76ers find themselves atop the competitive Eastern Conference standings, ahead of star-studded teams like the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks.
However, after Philadelphia’s win against the Detroit Pistons on Saturday evening Joel Embiid wasn’t talking about his performance. Instead, he couldn’t stop talking about the player who helped influence him the most – Kobe Bryant.
“I was about 13 or something like that,” Embiid told reporters, via CBS Sports. “It was the Finals against Boston and it was my first time watching NBA basketball and it happened to be on the Lakers. All I kept hearing about was Kobe, and they won that year. That was the first time I watched and that was also when I fell in love with basketball, and that’s why he became my favorite player. I will say that I’m probably here because of him.”
Embiid not only looked up to the Los Angeles Lakers’ great, he also tried to model many parts of his game after him – including his legendary fadeaway jump shot.
“Kobe, we miss him a lot. I miss him a lot,” Embiid added. “He was my favorite player and even when you watch the way I play basketball and the moves that I’ve added, especially when it comes to fadeaways over both shoulders, that comes from a lot of tapes on Kobe’s game. I miss him a lot. I wish he was still here with us.”
Embiid played just 22 minutes against the Pistons as the 76ers cruised to a 118-104 victory. The 27-year-old still managed to put up 29 points, an assist and a steal despite the limited playing time that he saw.
Saturday wasn’t the first time Embiid has honored the Lakers’ legend, as he also wore the number 24 in the first game he played since his death. In that game, Embiid also scored exactly 24 points. Earlier this season, Embiid even worse a pair of shoes against the Lakers that paid tribute to both Bryant and his daughter Gianna who also passed away in the tragic helicopter accident.
“Just looking at his career and what he was about, that Mamba mentality, it was about outworking your opponent, outworking everybody else,” Embiid said last year, via CBS sports. “I know he would’ve wanted everybody to go out there and compete hard, play the game, and try to win. That’s what he was about.. That’s how you honor him. You go out there and you do your best, you keep working hard.”
Bryant will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame later this month, as players continue to reflect on the impact that he had on the game.
Bryant won a total of five NBA titles with the Lakers, while Embiid continues to fight for his first with Philadelphia. The 76ers may never have a better shot of winning the league’s most prestigious prize for the fourth time in franchise history than they do this season.