The dictionary defines myth as a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events. While we don’t have a tale involving the early history of people on our hands, we certainly have a social phenomenon. As for a supernatural being, you can be the one who decides that.
Our subject is a 7’0 monster who can stretch the floor, fire out a tweet that makes even the biggest NBA curmudgeon laugh, and can leave people speechless for his actions both on and off the court. He’s the last of his kind, and may be decaying before our very eyes, despite certain individuals in the Pensylvania region dubbing him the centerpiece of their religion, “The Process.” In just over three short years, we have seen Joel Embiid turn into the biggest myth of the NBA.
Whether you’re talking about events that possibly happened that shaped the world or creatures that were once thought to be supernatural beings, they’re widely believed to not actually be real. Old wives tales passed on from generation to generation in order to serve a purpose. While Embiid is not fake because he’s a real-life human being, the hoopla surrounding him may have built him up to be something he isn’t.
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) October 9, 2017
To go over a brief timeline, there actually isn’t a ton to bring up about Embiid. Coming from Cameron, the big man played one year with the Kansas Jayhawks where he Dream Shook his way into our hearts in his 28 brief college games. His 11.2 points, 8.8 rebounds and gigantic frame were enough to project him to the top of the draft despite injury problems that would certainly keep him out a while.
Flash forward all the way to this summer. The man played in just 31 games over the course of three seasons. That’s good for just 12% of the Sixers games, or for reference, the same percentage of Charles Barkley jokes that you actually understand when he’s babbling on television.
Normally, that kind of playing percentage would warrant the label of a bust. Instead, Embiid received the total opposite, and was deemed a building block for the future as he received the maximum extension earlier this week.
Philadelphia center Joel Embiid has agreed to a five-year, $148 million designated rookie scale max extension, league sources told ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 9, 2017
That is one of the smallest sample sizes for the largest amount of money Embiid could have possibly received. That’s like getting into an arranged marriage after just hearing the person talk on the phone.
Not to bog everyone down with numbers and percentages yet again, but that $148 million he’s earned in 31 appearances can be broken down to $4.77 million per game. That means with one game check, you can buy this 2008 Oceanline yacht with money left to spare. The man is making yacht money and all he had to do is average 20.2 points and 7.8 rebounds for just over a third of the NBA season.
That’s where the base of the myth itself begins. The man is clearly talented. Averaging 20 points and nearly eight boards a game in just 25 minutes a game is absurd. With the NBA no longer relying on towering big men to patrol the paint, he has already proven he’s one of the best left at his position, and it only took 31 games and one preseason contest to do so.
"They can't f***ing guard me!"
Joel Embiid 22 points (14-18 FT), 7 boards, 3 assists & 1 block in 15 minutes. pic.twitter.com/RYv4HEPsRn
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) October 12, 2017
It took just 15 minutes after signing his brand new mega extension to rationalize why they resigned him, but his and-one off the glass is not why people love him. Look at Embiid shake his head back and forth while saying “they can’t f**kin guard me” over and over in the most disrespectful way possible.
That’s why people love him. He has become much more than just a basketball figure. He has been a seven-foot playful puppy that has become one of the most admired players in the league for his laid-back attitude and ridiculous antics. Just take a look at his response when former porn star and professional Twitter troll Mia Khalifa tried to come after Embiid on Instagram.
It’s things like that which elevate you from a talented basketball player with limitless potential to an absolute legend amongst your fan base.
It isn’t just retired porn stars that Embiid targets. He does the people’s work and takes on the battle that millions of people across America wish they could. He is a fighter of the people and is the voice of the annoyed and aggravated everywhere. Embiid proved he was the sh*t talker everyone needed when he called out the Ball family.
Please dunk on him so hard that his daddy runs on the court to save him.. https://t.co/cMvt5RYiSQ
— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) June 22, 2017
If there was any single way you can get every person on the planet behind you, it’s a move like this.
Lonzo Ball is clearly the victim in this situation as Embiid was just trying to go after LaVar Ball. As you could have imagined, Ball took the bait and fired back just like anyone who has ever heard the man muster a single syllable could’ve guessed.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) July 2, 2017
Embiid did not take his advice at all. Instead, he said what everyone has been thinking since he burst onto the scene over a year ago on Instagram live.
joel embiid says f lavar ball on ig live 😱😱😱 pic.twitter.com/bNQtAwqZYa
— Drew Corrigan (@Dcorrigan50) July 5, 2017
It takes more than potential stardom or even actual stardom to raise oneself to the peak of fan-obsession where Embiid currently resides.
The lack of f**ks Embiid gives combined with his talent aren’t the only reasons why he became the icon that he is. It also goes hand in hand with the roster rebuild taking place in Philadelphia, otherwise known as “The Process.”
Ever since Sam Hinke laid out his master plan for the 76ers to actually become relevant again, Philadelphia was looking for a reason to believe his dream. Sure, stockpiling draft picks were fun, but there was nothing tangible to actually get excited about, which is why the original myth was the entire rebuilding plan itself.
Over the first few years, there was no reason to think this was a real thing even though it took over parts of Sixers fans’ brains without them realizing. With no hope for the future, there was no reason not to cling to it.
It was an extremely catchy phrase that gave people an excuse to still enjoy things that were going on with their dumpster fire of a franchise. Nerlens Noel came and didn’t help The Process at all, Embiid was injured his first two seasons, and yet Jahlil Okafor was somehow still worse than him.
With three centers and no real hope for the future, the Sixers only chance to continue their unreasonably high hope was to cling to the only player who had yet to let them down, Joel Embiid.
Even when the Sixers got lucky enough to land Ben Simmons first overall, the same old luck struck and he missed his entire rookie year. It was then that Embiid burst through the ashes of Sam Hinkie’s dream like the mythological phoenix that he is and gave the Sixers everything they’ve been waiting for — a legitimate reason to hope for the future.
He was the perfect man for the role. Embiid clearly possessed the natural talent to keep hope intact, was goofy enough to completely enjoy, and even embraced the role more than anyone could have ever imagined. From giving himself the nickname “The Process” to fulfilling folklore by running around the streets of Philadelphia Rocky Balboa style, he was the hero the Sixers fan base needed.
JOEL EMBIID x ROCKY
— Mike Vernon (@M_Vernon) October 3, 2017
Without doing anything for 215 of the 246 games he’s been a Sixer, he managed to steal the heart of the entire city and give them a reason to continue to root for the team. He did enough for this city, so it was only natural that they repaid the favor by attempting to take his “f**k LaVar Ball” fine off his hands.
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) July 10, 2017
Throughout this entire process, if you will, it has been Embiid that has changed the “Trust the Process” event from a fake story to an origin story of this phenomenon that will surely sweep the league in the next few seasons. Even if Ben Simmons becomes the real superstar Philadelphia has been waiting for or Markelle Fultz lives up to the hype surrounding him, we all know who the man was that made this all possible.
Even though his maximum success over a minimum sample size paired with his constant injury problems make him seem like he’s been built up as a myth, Embiid is still the supernatural being to make The Process possible.