JJ Reddick is only one of the few people who managed to view the challenging struggles, evolution and journey to emergence of Joel Embiid.
And if ever the Cameroonian big man wins the Most Valuable Player award this season, he is surely the proudest because of what he contributed in its growth and maturity.
As Embiid welcomely joined Reddick in its Old Man & The Three podcast, the former professional marksman recalled the key moments when he decided to sign with the rebuilding Philadelphia 76ers in 2017 and seeing the uncertainties about the 27-year-old center way back then.
“I signed here in ’17, and you played 31 games [in 2016-2017 season]. You came into my free agency meeting … I’ve watched you in those 30 games and I wasn’t sure if the hype was real, I wasn’t sure if you’ll stay healthy, I wasn’t sure that you’ll end up being who you are today,” Reddick said on Embiid.
The current ESPN analyst declared that Embiid had already made it far when he became an All-star starter for fifth-consecutive time this year, dating back from 2018.
“And then when you got announced this year and it said ‘Joel Embiid, starting in his fifth-straight All-star game,’ I knew it was that moment to me — and I really mean that.
“To see what you have become as a player and a person, man, and I got to basically be here like at the beginning, like it’s meaningful to me and I just want to let you know that I’m proud of you, bro.”
Speaking as a happy veteran who boldly joined the young and still upcoming ‘Trust the Process’ Philly squad that embraced the unique culture of ‘tanking’ for the past several seasons, Reddick became the much-needed voice and presence on Embiid and the rest of the young Sixers core for back-to-back seasons in 2018 and 2019.
Though they failed to go deep in the postseasons because of certain memorable painful moments, his faith and optimism paved the way for the franchise centerpiece in becoming a successful superstar and an unstoppable force in the hardwood today.
On Wednesday, Embiid was overtaken by Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic in the NBA’s MVP odds race via DraftKings Sportsbook. If ever he managed to officially finish at the top one in league voting, he’ll become the first winner of the said award coming from the City of Brotherly Love since the legendary Allen Iverson (2001).
With the Sixers currently sitting at the East’ third spot with 46-29 and their leader Embiid is averaging a whopping 29.9 points, 11.4 boards, 4.1 assists in 48.9 percent shooting, Reddick certainly believes that his former teammate has the very best shot to claim the coveted honors.