Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid wants people to know he likes playing with Ben Simmons. Embiid refuted a report there was a growing rift between him and Simmons, and criticized 76ers fans for believing those rumors.
Embiid linked to a tweet that stated his tension with Simmons was "escalating." Embiid said that wasn't true, and that he thinks Simmons is "an amazing player."
The news comes a day after it was reported Simmons wants out of Philadelphia. Simmons took the brunt of the blame for the 76ers' early exit from the postseason. His unwillingness to shoot the ball became a major cause of concern for the team in its series against the Atlanta Hawks. Even Embiid made critical comments about Simmons following the 76ers' loss.
Embiid cautioned fans against reading too much into rumors of a rift, saying 76ers fans shouldn't believe everything they hear.
Embiid then related the situation to his own experience.
Joel Embiid had rocky start to his career with 76ers
Embiid made himself into an MVP candidate with the 76ers, but things didn't look that way initially. Embiid missed his first two professional seasons due to injuries. When he returned during the 2016-17 NBA season, Embiid's playing time was limited to keep him healthy.
After missing two years and only playing sparingly in his third season, Embiid heard it from 76ers fans. Embiid said he continued to hear boos as recently as two years ago.
Embiid said he used those boos as motivation to get better. He also admitted "not everyone is built like that."
Without context, that comment could be interpreted as Embiid once again calling out Simmons for refusing to push himself to the next level. Obviously, that wasn't the intention here. It wouldn't make sense for Embiid to say nice things about Simmons and then immediately take a swipe at him.
It's unclear whether Embiid's comments will convince Simmons to stick around. Simmons' trade value may be at an all-time low following the Hawks series, but he's still a tremendous player.
Trading Simmons might seem like the right decision considering every that has happened in the past few months, but it's tough to argue a deal would make the 76ers a better team.