76ers star Joel Embiid returned to the court Friday after missing the team’s first two Eastern Conference Semifinals games against the Heat in concussion protocol. After helping Philadelphia rout Miami, 99–79, the MVP candidate opened up about the response to the play that resulted in his recent concussion and an orbital fracture.
In Game 6 of the opening round against the Raptors, Embiid took an elbow to the face from Toronto forward Pascal Siakam. The play caused the Sixers big man to double over in pain, but Raptors supporters, and even the team’s radio broadcast, condoned the collision as “karma” for Embiid celebrating as he jogged down the court.
After scoring 18 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in 36 minutes against the Heat on Friday, Embiid opened up about last week’s events in Toronto by first noting that he didn’t think Siakam’s elbow was intentional.
He then turned his focus to the reaction of the fans, saying that the cheers about his injury changed his perception about the Raptors fanbase.
“I don’t think he meant to do it,” Embiid said of Siakam’s elbow, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “But, you know, I was more irritated by the perception of when that happened by really the fans and I’ve always thought [the Raptors] have great fans, but I kind of changed my mind about, you know, the fans up there. Whether it was throughout the series, the ‘F—’ chants and all that stuff. That’s cool. It never get to me anyways. But I think they got mad because I did the airplane celebration, but it’s been going on in a few arenas these days where, the fans, they just feel like, it’s okay to just say ‘F— somebody.’
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“There’s a bunch of kids in the arena. I don’t think that should be okay, even if there wasn’t kids, but it’s almost like, if you respond to it is almost like, in the Draymond [Green] situation, the league fines you. So it doesn’t bother me. I’m just speaking for, really, everybody in the NBA. Like I said, if you give it, you also got to be able to take it.”
Warriors forward Draymond Green was recently on the receiving end of a harsh fan reaction as he went into the visiting locker room with a right eye laceration during Game 2 against the Grizzlies. Green held up two middle fingers in response to the boos and was fined $25,000 for his actions by the league.
After clearing concussion protocols earlier on Friday, Embiid returned to the court in Philadelphia donning a black mask. Behind his efforts, the Sixers picked up their first win of the series and now trail the Heat 2–1 heading into Game 4.
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