Philadelphia 76ers star big man Joel Embiid has fuelled talk of chemistry problems among the team with several cryptic posts on social media.
The All-Star centre has struggled to mesh with point guard Ben Simmons, as well as off-season signings Al Horford and Josh Richardson in a season that has that far failed to live up to expectations.
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The 76ers were widely tipped to challenge the Milwaukee Bucks for the top seed in the Eastern Conference heading into the season, but have faced stiff competition from the Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat.
All three of the aforementioned teams have leapfrogged the 76ers in the East, something that clearly hasn’t escaped the attention of Embiid.
After being booed by his home crowd at one point before snapping a four-game losing streak, Embiid took to Instagram with a cryptic acknowledgment of Philly fans’ frustrations - only to dig deeper in the comments.
“You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain,” Embiid wrote on Instagram, captioning a picture of himself shushing the crowd.
Former 76ers teammate Jimmy Butler, himself no stranger to locker room ructions during his stints in Philadelphia and Minnesota, bobbed up in the comments with what appeared to be an offer to join forces once again.
“I know a place where villains are welcome,” Butler wrote.
“Damn right,” Embiid wrote back.
It was the latest clue to the potential dysfunction in the City of Brotherly Love, after Embiid seemed to call Simmons out for his refusal to shoot three pointers early in January.
“We’ve got to help each other even if it means being outside of your comfort zone for the greater (good) to help the team win,” Embiid said.
“Meaning that, if you’ve got to space and shoot it, you’ve got to do it. We need everybody to buy into that and we’ll be fine, we’re going to be fine.”