Doc Rivers challenged Joel Embiid to get into better shape over offseason
Philadelphia 76ers star center Joel Embiid has thrived in his first season under new head coach Doc Rivers. It turns out that a little dose of accountability may have helped.
Upon his arrival in Philadelphia this past offseason, Rivers challenged the seven-footer Embiid to get into better shape.
“I asked him, ‘Have you ever seen an out-of-shape MVP?'” said Rivers of Embiid, per Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. “He started laughing. And I said, ‘It doesn’t exist.'”
“He told me that I needed to be a leader,” Embiid added about Rivers. “If I came back in shape, it also meant to my teammates, ‘It’s time to go. Joel is ready. He came back. He’s in great shape. That means you guys have no excuse to not be in shape.’ So that’s what I did. I took it to heart.”
Take it to heart Embiid has indeed. The 27-year-old, who is officially listed at 280 pounds, used to be infamous for his poor diet. But Embiid has been open about how he took his conditioning very seriously this past summer.
The result has been that Embiid is having his best season yet for the Eastern Conference-best Sixers. He is averaging 29.2 points on 51.2 percent from the field (both career-highs) and might have been the frontrunner for MVP if he had not missed several weeks with a knee injury.
As for Rivers, he has not gotten always through to all of his players. But his relationship with Embiid at least seems like a pretty strong one already.