Last month, Joel Embiid wrote in the Players' Tribune that his trolling was a thing of the past. No more cryptic messages, no more memes, no more antagonizing opponents.
"Once I'm holding that (NBA championship) trophy in my hands," Embiid wrote, "maybe I'll be back to my charming self."
His stint as a reserved competitor is apparently over. After making a shushing gesture and yelling "Shut the f— up" following a 3-pointer at home against the Bulls on Sunday — an outburst he at first described as being pointed toward himself — he took to Twitter on Monday to take ownership of a newfound role as a heel.
"You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain,” Embiid wrote, quoting "The Dark Knight."
— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) February 11, 2020
JOEL HANS EMBIID pic.twitter.com/WMtw6UnsTb
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) February 10, 2020
Philadelphia fans have taken to booing the 76ers and Embiid recently, unimpressed by the team's stagnation. Embiid, who so often searches for sources of motivation, seems to be using hometown discord to fire himself up. While it's taken him away from his vow to avoid external distractions, perhaps he is simply a player who needs some level of conflict to thrive.
The 76ers are 33-21 and 13.5 games behind the Bucks for the No. 1 seed. They have gone 5-5 in their past 10 games, losing to the downtrodden Hawks in addition to several Eastern Conference rivals along the way.
Embiid filled up the box score Sunday en route to his shushing. He scored 28 points, grabbed 12 boards, dished five assists and blocked four shots.