76ers’ Joel Embiid talks Ben Simmons, MVP race and future

The black Sprinter van had just made the turn out of the CBS Studios lot when Joel Embiid made an announcement. “I don’t want to be an actor,” the Sixers star says. Last fall, he linked up with WME, the powerful talent agency, in part to figure out what his post-playing career could look like. An hour on the set of The Late, Late Show With James Corden running through a sketch during an off day in Los Angeles isn’t exactly sending Embiid into acting workshops. “I could do it from time to time,” says Embiid. “But every day? Ten hours a day? I don’t have the patience for that. I could be good at it. But I’d rather stay home and sleep.”

It’s also been suggested that Embiid—still just 28—could be an NBA exec. League minutiae has long fascinated Embiid. He’ll regularly buzz Sixers president Daryl Morey to discuss everything from draft evaluations to the salary cap. But full-time? “Nah,” says Embiid. “Too much travel. If I want to travel, I’m doing it outside the U.S.”

It’s late March, and Embiid is stretched out in a front seat by the door of the van, his right leg dangling off a railing. He’s opining about the future, but the sight of Embiid elevating his right foot is enough to give Philly fans flashbacks—Embiid missed his first two seasons after being drafted third in 2014 with a recurring foot injury—but the appendage hasn’t bothered him in years. Everything else? Well . . . Embiid prefers not to discuss injuries, if only to avoid being associated with them again. “I’ve overcome that,” says Embiid. “People used to believe I was never going to play or that I was never going to be good. I don’t want that to creep back in. I’m healthy. I’m fine. I’m good.” His scars, though, tell a story. The one on his left leg, to repair a torn meniscus in his knee, in ’17. On his left hand, the result of surgery to repair a torn ligament in ’20. This season Embiid has regularly sported heavy tape on his right wrist. In a mid-March win over the Lakers, Stanley Johnson, L.A.’s 6′ 7″, 243-pound forward, wrapped up Embiid on a layup attempt, leaving him to grab at a sore back that plagued him in the final weeks of the season. “The pain he plays through,” says Embiid’s longtime trainer, Drew Hanlen, “it’s f—ing ridiculous.”

By Harriet