BOSTON–The Philadelphia 76ers had a great chance to finally advance to the Eastern Conference finals in their matchup with the Boston Celtics. They held a 3-2 series lead following an impressive Game 5 road win and with the series shifting back to the Wells Fargo Center, it seemed like a lock for them.
Instead, the offense stalled in the fourth quarter of a Game 6 loss and then they weren’t able to get off the ground in Game 7. Joel Embiid, the MVP of the league, struggled as he had just 15 points on 5-for-18 shooting with the season on the line.
The numbers look bad and the performance was even worse. As he was sitting on the bench in the waning seconds of the Game 7 blowout losses, Embiid began thinking about things.
“I was telling myself not to overreact,” he explained. “It doesn’t matter when you lose, you don’t get a trophy for being second or third or fourth or fifth or sixth. It doesn’t matter if you lose in the first round, the finals, there’s only one team that wins, and if you didn’t accomplish that, are you gonna be happy for being second? I know I’m not so to me, if I don’t finish first, it is a failure.”
Embiid isn’t wrong. Even if the Sixers had lost in the conference finals or if they lost in the finals, it still would have been a loss. They didn’t get the job done.
“The rest doesn’t really matter and as I’m sitting there and just trying to figure it out and just, it’s tough,” he added. “I don’t think I would’ve been happier going to the finals and losing in the finals. I don’t think I would’ve been proud of myself.”
The big fella also added that a kid went up to him and tell him how much he looks up to him. That helped him see what’s important in life.
“It’s actually funny because it just happened and as I was sitting there, a kid just walked up to me,” Embiid added. “He’s African and…obviously this is bigger than basketball. As he’s sitting here and telling me a story about being African and what he had to go through to be in this position and looking up to me and telling me how much I’ve done for him based on where I’m at. That just helped me realize that it’s bigger than basketball.”
Embiid has always wanted to be an inspiration for his people back in Cameroon. He has come a long way and he is one of the top five players in the game and while he wants to win, he wants to be viewed as an inspiration for people back home.
“At the end of the day, this, our life, I care about winning and I wanna win so bad and I know everybody around me also knows that,” Embiid continued. “It’s tough losing. It sucks losing. I freaking hate losing, but then again, he just reminded me that just being in my position, I’m able to help other people. Especially, from where I’m from to make them believe that they can accomplish something bigger for themselves and bigger for their lives and their family.”
At the end of the day, Embiid wants to win, but there are bigger things in life.
“Like I said, it sucks losing, but there’s way bigger important things in life,” he finished. “I’ve got my family, I’m gonna spend some time with them. So yeah, I hate losing, but there’s so much more I can worry about.”
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Source: Yahoo Sports