Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid Are Stuck Between Star and Superstar

When Simmons and Embiid entered the N.B.A. two years aside, they got here with completely different ranges of fame. Simmons, the primary choose of the 2016 draft, was quieter however in some methods higher identified. That fall, Showtime launched a documentary known as “One & Done” that examined Simmons’s lone yr at Louisiana State University.

Embiid was drafted third in 2014 out of the University of Kansas. Hailing from Cameroon, he was extra of a thriller, having arrived within the United States when he was 16, shortly after enjoying basketball for the primary time. From his personal telling, he realized easy methods to shoot by watching movies on YouTube. After lacking his first two N.B.A. seasons — due to foot accidents, which additionally value Simmons his first post-draft yr — Embiid shortly drew consideration together with his unfiltered, jovial nature. Just a sampling:

There was the time in 2017 when a Lyft driver noticed Embiid casually going for a nighttime jog by himself by means of the streets of Philadelphia.

In 2018, Embiid requested Rihanna on Twitter if she was single.

And there was a number of trash speak, geared toward opponents — and, typically, their mother and father.

Embiid gained over the Philadelphia followers, who haven’t seen a 76ers championship since 1983, by being humorous, vicious and good on their behalf. But because the Sixers launched into a disappointing common season that left them preventing for the sixth seed within the N.B.A.’s weaker Eastern Conference, there have been indicators that Embiid’s relationship with the town’s fan base had frayed. In February, Embiid shushed the house crowd after hitting a clutch Three-pointer towards the Chicago Bulls, following stories of booing from the sad followers. At the tip of July, Embiid downplayed that incident on “The Rights To Ricky Sanchez,” a Sixers fan podcast, saying that he cherished enjoying in Philadelphia due to its passionate followers.

“But then again,” Embiid mentioned, “if you dish it, you’ve also got to be able to take it. Just like when I shushed them and they all went crazy. I’m like ‘Well, you were booing me!’”

For now, it seems that the Embiid and Simmons partnership is staying collectively. On that very same podcast, Embiid mentioned that they “can get so much better than we are right now.”

“The potential that we have, I love him, I want to be with him for the rest of my career,” he mentioned.

And regardless of the group’s struggles this yr, Brand not too long ago informed reporters that he supposed to proceed to construct round Embiid and Simmons. But in the event that they don’t make a leap quickly, there’s a first rate probability that the town’s love for them — tenuous with even the very best athletes — could come to an finish.

“We do this thing with Ben and Joel where we call them superstars and then when they fail, we say, ‘Well, they’re just young. You can’t expect a lot out of them,” Spike Eskin, a number of “The Rights To Ricky Sanchez,” mentioned in an interview. “Those two things don’t exist together. Either you are growing and getting better and a future star, or you are a superstar. But you can’t be both.”

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