Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid is quickly developing into one of the best trash talkers in the NBA. He’s exchanged words with Hassan Whiteside, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant, to name a few, and most of the time it’s seemingly been all in the spirit of good competition — no hard feelings.

But on Monday, Embiid ran into a player who wasn’t interested in hearing him talk. The big man blocked Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and then stared him down as Mitchell fell to the floor. Mitchell didn’t find it funny, and he ran after Embiid, pushing him as he made his way down the court

Both players shook off the incident, with Embiid admitting that he flopped and Mitchell admitting that he lost his cool. But it does beg the question: Is Embiid scared that players will physically retaliate because of his constant trash talk and Twitter trolling?

“Oh no. I’m not worried about that,” Embiid said on ESPN’s SC6. “If those guys don’t want to get their feelings hurt, if they’re not strong mentally, that’s not my fault. But I think when it comes down to it, if we’ve all got to square up, I mean, I’m 7-2 and I’m a big dude, so I don’t think you want to try me. And I’m African too.

“That’s the whole point of playing basketball — having fun. Go out there, have fun, kick someone’s ass and just play basketball.”

You have to admit, Embiid has a point. He’s one of the larger players in the NBA right now — he may have embellished a bit, since the NBA lists him at 7-foot, not 7-2, but still. Not many players are going to look to get in his face unless he says something truly awful.

The fact that Embiid added his African heritage to the list of his intimidating traits is a bit strange, but it perhaps has something to do with the mystique he’s already created surrounding his upbringing. As far back as his college days at Kansas, Embiid has been telling people that he killed a lion as a 6-year-old growing up in Cameroon.

Is it the truth or is it just Embiid being Embiid and trolling us all? The fact that we don’t know is what makes him so awesome.

Embiid has been phenomenal this season, and his 47-point, 15-rebound, seven-assist, seven-block performance in a national TV win against the Lakers was something that had never before been seen in the NBA. If trash talk is the way that Embiid gets himself going, more power too him.


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