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Philadelphia 76ers

Joel Embiid says he’s fine being viewed as the bad guy: ‘I like being the a-shole anyway’

Joel Embiid
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid feels that he isn’t well liked, and that’s perfectly fine with him.

He recently spoke about why he has no problem being the “bad guy.”

“People always thought that I was crazy when I said this — I really believe that I’m not well-liked,” he told The Athletic while speaking about the MVP race. “And it’s cool with me, that’s fine. I’ll be the bad guy. I like being the a–hole anyway. I like being the underdog. So that’s fine with me. My thing is, when I leave the game of basketball, I want to make sure that people looked at me as…it’s hard to be the greatest ever because you’ve got to win a bunch of championships and not everyone is lucky to do it because only one team can win and you have to have the right pieces around you…but when I leave the game, I want to make sure that they say: No one was stopping him offensively and defensively, and he was a monster.


“That’s why I play the game — for the respect. I put in too much work. If you look at the beginning of my career and where I have been taking my game, offensively I’ve become like a guard.”

This season, Embiid is looking to win NBA MVP honors for the first time in his career, and many believe that he’s on track to do just that.

The big man is averaging 33.3 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.7 blocks per game while shooting 54.5 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from beyond the arc. He’s on pace to lead the league in scoring for a second consecutive season.

Embiid has come close to winning the MVP award before, but he’s fallen short each time. He finished second in the race in both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons. With just a few games remaining in the 2022-23 season, he may be closer than ever to earning the elusive honor.

It also helps that his Sixers have had a pretty solid season so far. They’re on pace to break the 50-win mark, as they’re currently in third place in the Eastern Conference at 49-25.

Whether Embiid is well liked or not, there’s no denying that he has evolved into one of the most dangerous and complete players in the league. At just 29 years old, he is likely going to be a major factor in superstar conversations for years to come.

That’s good news for the Sixers, who have him under contract through at least the 2025-26 season. Embiid is beloved in Philadelphia, and right now, that’s what counts.


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