Sixers' Joel Embiid says he wants to be a 'good a--hole' after shushing Philadelphia crowd in win vs. Bulls

The Philadelphia 76ers are having an extremely weird season, and it continued on Sunday when they barely beat the lowly Chicago Bulls, 118-111. But before we get to what happened in this game, let's go back a bit to set the stage.

As everyone is aware, the Sixers have not even come close to living up to preseason expectations, which had them as one of the main contenders to win the Eastern Conference. Instead, they're hovering around the middle of the playoff pack and are in a fight just to get home-court advantage in the first round. And when they went on the road earlier this month and lost four games in a row, the fans were not happy.

Philly fans aren't afraid to express their feelings, and so in the team's first game back at home after that road trip, coach Brett Brown and big man Al Horford were booed during introductions. The Sixers went on to beat the Grizzlies, and while the crowd went home happy that night, a win over a young Memphis team didn't fix all the problems. 

OK, so now that everyone's on the same page, let's go back to Sunday. As the team struggled to deal with a Bulls squad that borders on embarrassing at times, the Sixers crowd let the team have it again, with boos ringing out around Wells Fargo Center. Whether he was inspired by that noise or because he's simply way better than anyone on the Bulls, Joel Embiid dominated in the fourth quarter.

He went for 12 points, three rebounds and two assists in the fourth alone to make sure the Sixers got the win, and after a late 3-pointer to seal the deal, held up a solitary finger to his lips. Then, for good measure, the camera caught him mouthing what appears to be "shut the f--- up." Just another normal day in Philly, where the team's best player is shushing the home crowd and telling them to shut up. 

After the game, Embiid was obviously asked about the gesture, and only added to the weirdness of the entire situation. 

Embiid's full comments on his gesture and celebration:

"Just talking to myself, I have not been playing up to my standards. Even tonight, I didn't shoot the ball well, and I didn't play well, so you know, just mad at myself. Just frustrated. Just gotta keep trying to get better every single game."

"I don't care how it looks, I'm just playing basketball man. I'm just getting back to myself, being a good asshole, just playing basketball and trying to dominate."

Embiid can claim whatever he wants, but it's pretty hard to buy the idea that he was shushing himself, or telling himself to "shut the f--- up" after hitting a clutch 3 at home. All the other parts of his comments seem pretty genuine, though.

Since returning from a thumb injury in late January, he hasn't been playing great -- at least not consistently. Over those seven games, he's putting up 20.3 points and 10.6 rebounds, but is shooting just 43.6 percent and has had a couple of terrible games against the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks

It's easy to see how his injury, subsequent poor play, the team's failure to live up to expectations and the crowd's reaction have all combined to make him pretty frustrated. And his reaction to troll the crowd and be a "good a--hole," as he put it, is just Joel being Joel. That might not have been the best idea given the current relationship between the team and the city, but Embiid has never been one to shy away from expressing himself, and that's why he fits in so well in Philly. 

Now if only the team could figure out how to fit together that well, the Sixers might really have something here. 

NBA Writer

Jack Maloney lives and writes in Milwaukee, where, like the Bucks, he is trying to own the future. Full Bio

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