Five big questions about Joel Embiid trash-talking

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 11: Joel Embiid
OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 11: Joel Embiid /

We have questions about the NBA. Luckily, we also have answers. Some of them might be useful. A few might even turn out to be right. This is Five Big Questions and this week we touch on one of the important things in the NBA, Joel Embiid trash-talking. 

Who do you think won the Joel Embiid vs. Andre Drummond trash-talk exchange?

Bryan Toporek (@btoporek): Serious question: Has anyone bested Joel Embiid in a trash talk exchange yet? Hell, Kevin Durant admitted the Warriors were motivated to beat the Sixers largely because they didn’t want to give Embiid trolling material.

With that said, Embiid vs. Drummond was more of a no-contest than Ronda Rousey vs. Cat Zingano.

The Sixers big man got into Drummond’s head when after their first matchup, he told reporters, “Defensively, he doesn’t play any defense.” Then, prior to Saturday’s game, he mocked Drummond’s inability to shoot. Drummond fired back by making fun of Embiid’s lengthy injury history. (Cool story, Hansel!) But after dropping a 25-10, drawing Drummond’s sixth foul and helping the Sixers escape with the 108-103 win, Embiid was the runaway winner in Round 2 of the budding Embiid-Drummond rivalry.

Trevor Magnotti (@illegalscreens): Only one of these players decided to go to the media after the game and clap back by referencing Embiid’s injuries as a sign of weakness. Drummond just got worked for 25/10 and fouled out, and his go-to response was “well, I’ve played more than 50 career games? Congrats Andre, you’ve done something that esteemed players like Eric Leckner and Scot Pollard have done before. Injuries happen, and that’s not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength that Embiid is even back on the floor after those years of rehab, much less that he’s putting Drummond in a blender in the post. Give me Embiid all day because at least he has substantial crap to talk that isn’t “I haven’t gotten hurt though!”

Chazz Scogna (@chazzscogna): At some point the game becomes secondary. The Embiid-Drummond exchange is the classic example of desperation. Everyone’s been roasted for something to the point where they come back with a comment that isn’t exactly germane to the topic but can still turn the tables. It’s a rookie mistake. Embiid wins by default there. But I will say I respect Drummond and Embiid hugging it out at the end of the game. See you Jan. 5.

Ian Levy (@HickoryHigh): This isn’t even a debate. Embiid can be subtle, he can be direct. He’s funny and he’s not pulling criticisms out of thin air. Oh, and he also backed it up. Twice. Game, set, match…point. Embiid. Game over.

What is your favorite Embiid trash-talk moment?

Toporek: This is like asking me which child is my favorite. Do you go with him imploring Ben Simmons to dunk on Lonzo Ball so hard “that his daddy runs on the court to save him,” or do you pick his “your +/- was ass” beef with Hassan Whiteside? (That also featured perhaps the best use of an Instagram location ever.) Or what about him claiming to have forgotten Willie Reed’s name after the Clippers big man tried to hit him with a chokehold? With apologies to the truly hilarious Lonzo tweet, I have to choose the Whiteside trolling. As my wife can attest, I’ve started dropping Embiid’s “extremely ass” line at least five times a day since then.

Magnotti: I don’t think there’s been a better move than the 81 percent joke. I’m a Jalen Rose hater by trade, but that was just perfectly orchestrated, from leading with 69 percent to the predictability that Rose would have something to say about it, to Embiid crushing that softball into the upper decks with his response. The thing that made that moment best was not the joke, which was funny and great by itself, but the predictable nature with which it happened. You knew it was coming, and he delivered innovatively anyway.

Scogna: It’s not the most vicious piece of trash talk he’s ever executed — his Jalen Rose roast is the best so far — but adopting The Process as his nickname. It’s an F-U to every person who claimed The Process a failure because of his injury history.

Levy: Roasting Rose. It was the perfect trash talk. Just subtle enough that you would have missed it if you weren’t Rose, or weren’t paying attention.

Who should Embiid trash-talk next?

Toporek: Donald Trump. Enough said. (He already got a head start on that last November.)

Magnotti: I think the move is getting into it with an announcer in-game during the course of play. I want a commentator to make a dumb or short-sighted comment during a game and for the court mic to pick up Embiid trash talking that commentator hard enough that the guy at the mic totally breaks character and makes the production truck cut his mic. Preferably this announcer would work for TNT, have a reputation as a trash talker from his playing days, and be mostly reviled by his audience now. Not that there’s anyone specific I’m referring to of course. I just think that scenario would be an Edgy Thriller. *winks repeatedly*

Scogna: The players-only NBA TV broadcast: Chris Webber, Steve Smith, Isiah Thomas, Kevin McHale, Dennis Scott, Greg Anthony. Take your pick. I enjoy player perspective on the NBA. What I don’t enjoy is hearing every week how soft the NBA is today, how the 3-point line ruined the league and Charles Barkley saying the 3-pointer stops teams from entering the bonus sooner.

Levy: Josh Huestis of the Thunder might be the second-most creative trash talker in the NBA. I’d love to see them build up a beef.

Who should Embiid never trash-talk?

Toporek: Sam Hinkie. He died for our sins.

Magnotti: If we could just not with Skip Bayless, that’d be great.

Scogna: No one should ever be safe, even me.

Levy: I’m with Trevor, let’s not throw any extra attention to certain talking heads who build themselves up with this kind of stuff.

If you could get an Embiid trash-talk exchange with any NBA player in history who would it be?

Toporek: Michael Jordan feels like the default answer here since he was a legendary trash talker, but MJ would take Embiid’s trolling way too seriously. Embiid and Shaquille O’Neal could have gotten into hilarious off-court battles after waging on-court wars, but Shaq’s family-friendly persona back in his Lakers heyday likely would have prevented a truly memorable spat. Thus, I’m going with Larry Bird here. The Legend was relentless with his trash talk, but Embiid wouldn’t back down from him either on or off the court. Given the long-standing history between the Celtics and 76ers, Embiid and Bird could have created a rivalry like no other.

Magnotti: I’ll go 1994-1995 Shawn Kemp, just because if Embiid gets an advantage and dunks on Kemp in game, you know he’s specifically one-upping the Alton Lister finger-pointing as a celebration. Taking one of the foundational dunk reactions and upping the ante is peak Joel.

Next: Embiid landed at 6th on our 25-under-25 this summer

Scogna: Prime Kevin Garnett. A battle of two heavyweights from different eras: Garnett from the 90s and Millenial Embiid. Imagine what happens once Garnett goes super personal and Embiid tweets about it later.

Levy: So many of the legendary trash-talkers seem to draw their power from a place of anger — Reggie Miller, Jordan, Larry Bird. Embiid is just having fun, it’s entertainment for him (and us). We’d have to find someone with an equal sense of humor to really draw the most out of this hypothetical matchup. Give me Gary Payton.