As he hit the podium on Sunday night, Washington Wizards’ Montrezl Harrell already had that knowledge about the things he would be asked.
Indeed, it was all rooted in his scuffles against Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid.
On the first occasion, the two clashing big men were separated by eight other players within the hardwood. At around 3 minutes of the third frame, the clock had stopped as Embiid wrapped up the bulldozing, defensive Harrell after throwing the ball over from the physical encounter. The 6-foot-7 Harrell was handed a common foul, while also receiving a technical foul with Embiid due to the incident.
In just a few moments, both centers engaged for another tight moment.
Upon out muscling Harrell from the offensive glass and gaining an and-one opportunity, Embiid seemingly taunted the undersized big from the play. As a result, Harrell shoved the Cameroonian All-star and was slapped by another technical foul that ousted him from the game.
Harrell told the media that he was clueless about what caused him to be ejected by the officials. He further claimed that he has no regrets about being removed, but stands firm for parity in terms of treatment and assessment of actions after Embiid’s taunting, via NBC Sports:
“I don’t know, you’ve got to ask the ref, man … He got his rebound, he got an and-one, and it’s cool you got an and-one, but he had it in my face. I ain’t one of them guys. It is what it is, I wouldn’t change it no differently from what I did, on either emphasis, both techs. I stand on both of them and I don’t feel I did nothing wrong.”
“I don’t regret not one minute (being ejected). At the end of the day, the double tech was called how it was supposed to be called. But if we’re going to nitpick about every little rule, taunting and all that, then let it go both ways. He got an and-one, he want to yell in my face and stuff like that, I pushed him out my face. That was the end of it.”
Harrell further ripped Embiid’s way of taunting, saying that the franchise player has to stand in its toughness and act appropriately.
“He was the one to step back and point, ‘Oh, oh, I got pushed!’ Stand on your toughness,” Harrell said. “If you’re so tough, stand on that, my dude. Don’t start nitpicking and pointing and wanting to do the telling when the ref walk in, my guy. Stand on that. I am, I got tossed, it is what it is. I wish it wouldn’t have been in the situation that it was in, but I don’t regret it.”
“I don’t want to take it back, it is what it is. I’m not going to change how I play for nobody. I’m not going to back down from nobody. I don’t care about none of that roo-rah talkin’. It’s talk, simple as that.”
On the separate side, Embiid stated that it was only his task to get into the head of Harrell, which turned out to be a successful plot.
“I wouldn’t say I baited him into that (second tech) but I like to think that I’m a troll,” Embiid said. “I like to think I kind of made him get out of his comfort zone, and that got him kicked out…
“Basketball is also mental. You got to be able to get in your opposition’s heads, and that’s what I did.”
As the plans of Embiid turned out perfect, the Sixers’ win was the undisputed icing at the top of the cake, 117-96. The big man had a monstrous double-double performance of 36 markers and 13 rebounds. Upon the removal in the second half, Harrell settled for 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists as his energy and intensity were missed by his team down the stretch.