Philadelphia 76ers general manager Elton Brand has said that Joel Embiid is the main reason he's where he is today.
One of the best big man around in his day, Brand tried to go on playing for as long as he could, despite being battered and bruised.
After 16 years in the NBA, with an aching back, creaking knees and sore feet, a 35-year-old Brand still thought he had something to offer - that was until he went up against Embiid in practice.
“Joel Embiid made me an NBA general manager,” the GM said with a laugh, via Philly Voice. “Playing against guys like Joel, just getting murdered, just getting destroyed every day in practice by him (in 2016), because I probably couldn’t stop him even in my heyday, but still. My knees hurt, my back hurt, I’m playing defense, giving it my all and that’s when I said to myself, ‘Time is up. Time is up.’
“If there was one galvanizing moment that led me to where I am today, to get out, that was it - playing against Joel. Playing against the younger guys, not being able to move like I wanted to move. I can honestly say that Joel Embiid happened to make me an NBA general manager today - and happened to make me a good one because he’s a Sixer.”
While Jojo forced him to really consider retiring, it was a call from his agent that set things in motion after his second season with the Atlanta Hawks.
“I got the call that all professional athletes dread from their agent no - one is going to sign you,” he said. “They loved me in Atlanta and offered me an assistant general managers’ job. I wasn’t playing much. I was in a mentoring role, but I still wanted to play.
“I had the player’s bug. I spent time shadowing management in Atlanta; spent time with Mike Budenholzer, who was the Hawks’ president, talking about basketball, philosophy, talking about trades and the vision of an organization. I wasn’t ready to be an assistant GM, because I saw what it took.”
Embiid, meanwhile, has built a reputation as the NBA's ultimate troller. But Brand has revealed that the center was taken down by a sour prank of his toward the end of his last season as a player.
“I was on vacation with my family and the team won nine games - nine games," he said. "I thought I could still play, remember. That’s when I came back to play for the Sixers near the end of 2016. We were 9-68 and going to be tied as the worst team in NBA history.
"I’ve come from winning and was used to winning. So, I had someone make up a banner that said ‘Congratulations for tying the worst record ever.’ It was my idea and we put it up inside the locker room with everyone’s name on it. My name was on it. They were pissed. Joel saw it and said, 'I’m not even playing'."
What This Means
Brand might have just fueled Embiid's ego with this revelation. That is already as big as it gets. But try finding out you're the main reason for your GM retiring...
Philly, though, could be better for it as they've found out that, for them, nothing is better than a pumped-up Joel Embiid.