After only playing 31 games in his double-redshirt rookie season, Embiid finally got to showcase his abilities during the 2017-18 season, which was spent wearing the adidas Mad Bounce. As the name suggests, the budget-friendly basketball sneaker features Bounce technology similar to the aforementioned Light Em Up 2. After a stretch of five early season games where Joel dropped 20+ points, Embiid really showed off his potential in a primetime matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Embiid finished with a career-high 46 points in this game on November 15, 2017.
While the stats produced in that game were impressive, JoJo’s mouth got him bigger headlines in a January 2018 game against the Celtics. Embiid ended up with 26 points, 16 rebounds, and 6 assists which is impressive in itself.
This game is notable more for what happened before and after regulation, however. Joel was named as an All-Star starter the day before the Celtics game and a lot of the fan vote was drummed up by Embiid. Joel basically gained additional publicity on social media by mentioning that his celebrity crush would go out with him if he made the All-Star team that year. Many people believed this to be Rihanna, as Joel constantly mentioned trying to slide in her DMs dating back to his first year with the Sixers.
Flash forward to Embiid’s post-game interview in his team’s win over the Celtics and all eyes were on the Cameroonian Cassanova.
After this interview, the Internet was ablaze with headlines claiming Joel Embiid “curved” Rihanna. Sleuthing Sixers fans actually claim that Embiid’s crush was actually a Canadian model, as JoJo previously denied the celebrity was Rihanna in an interview with Dan LeBatard. No matter who the crush is, Joel Embiid has cemented his spot as a quote machine who doesn’t just let his game speak for itself.