Joel Embiid did not have an easy start in his life in the NBA. Embiid was the third overall in the 2014 NBA Draft. But he did not start playing consistently for the 76ers till about his third season, which is considered his rookie year. But since then, he has gone on to become a superstar in the league, and one of the best big men in the NBA today.
It was far from an easy road for Embiid. And while it is always tough for people to make it to the NBA, for Embiid, being from Cameroon, the road was even more complicated. So much so, that Embiid didn't even think he could be a player in the NBA, and just wanted to use basketball to get a degree that could get him a job.
In a recent interview, Embiid explained that his goal when he first made it to the United States to play basketball was to simply use the sport to get a scholarship that could help him get a degree, and thus a better life. Never in his life did he expect to become an NBA superstar, because it felt like it was too insurmountable a challenge.
"When I came to the states, my goal really was to use this opportunity so I can get some sort of scholarship and some sort of degree so I can go back home and make something out of it. I never knew. I mean, you start playing basketball at 16. To me, it was like I never really had a chance to make it... I think the thing that helped me the most people believed in me from the beginning. That made me work extremely hard to try and get better every single day not to make it to the league because at that point, I always thought I wasn't good enough even when I got to college. I was always thought there was no way I was making it. The fact that people believed in me and I got to college, that's what I wanted, honestly. I kinda used that opportunity to get a degree and go work somewhere else and make some money for my family. I would have never imagined."
Embiid has since become a star in the NBA, a regular All-Star and All-NBA player in the seasons that he is healthy. Last year, he was a solid contender to win MVP and Defensive Player Of The Year. But while that didn't materialize, there is no denying how talented Embiid really is.
The 76ers know that they have a superstar in the form of Embiid. And while their other superstar, Ben Simmons, has not performed up to expectations, the same cannot be said for Embiid, who has shined at almost every level that he possibly could. And he will likely only get better over the next few years.