CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid remembers the moment it happened, that night back in Kansas when he took a (non-alcoholic) sip and was hooked. It was then that Embiid’s affinity for Shirley Temples began.
“One night I went out with my teammates,” Embiid explained at shootaround Wednesday. “I don’t drink alcohol so I wasn’t drinking. This girl walked up to me, she was talking to me, she was like, ‘Why aren’t you drinking?’ I was like, ‘I just don’t drink, alcohol is nasty.’ She said, ‘I might have something for you.’ She went and got a Shirley Temple. Then I was like, ‘Ohhh OK.’ Then I fell in love with it and since then, I’ve been drinking it.”
Embiid has been closely tied to his favorite beverage since he entered the NBA in 2014. He has spoken about consuming pitchers of Shirley Temples, which he has been cutting back. Embiid said he still has one drink “almost every day.” His ingredients of choice are grenadine and ginger ale.
“I used to drink a lot of them,” he said. “But I’ve got to keep my diet.”
The Sixers have launched an All-Star voting campaign for Embiid around his drink of choice. On Wednesday, those at the game can purchase 16-ounce Shirley Temples for $5 at all bar locations in the Wells Fargo Center.
Robert Covington said Embiid is consistent with ordering a Shirley Temple and a water whenever he gets to a restaurant. Even though Embiid’s love for the drink is well known, he still raises eyebrows when requesting one. The reactions of surprise don't faze him.
“Everybody looks at me like, ‘What do you mean, Shirley Temples?’” Embiid said. “That’s all I drink. That’s the best drink ever.”
Joel Embiid was a big winner in the 2017 NBPA Players Voice Awards.
He earned honors for Comeback Player of the Year and, in what seemed like a lock all season, Best Social Media Follow.
Embiid made a huge impact in only 31 games after missing his first two seasons because of foot injuries. He averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks, all while being capped on a minutes restrictions and held out of back-to-back games. Embiid was on pace to win Rookie of the Year before suffering a season-ending knee injury. He underwent surgery in March.
His influence was just as big on social media. Embiid became a Twitter star before he even played an NBA game. Now with over 857,000 followers, he has kept fans entertained with everything from his admiration of Rihanna, an All-Star campaign to get a date, and his recent beef with LaVar Ball. Embiid frequently posts videos engaging with fans (who usually are chanting "Trust the Process") and puts a creative spin on his Instagram locations.
Embiid wasn't the only Sixer to win an award. T.J. McConnell earned the well respected "Best Teammate" award, presented to one player from each NBA team. McConnell’s hard-nosed approach and relentless hustle earned him the starting point guard role in late December. The underdog has fought to establish his place in the league for the last two seasons and has made an impression on the Sixers' staff, fan base and his peers while doing so.
NBA players voted on these awards at the end of the regular season. The winners were announced on the NBPA's Twitter Friday morning.
The odds are in for the 2017-18 NBA MVP and a pair of Sixers are in the mix.
Joel Embiid’s odds are 50/1 while Ben Simmons’ are 66/1, according to Bovada.
Russell Westbrook is the frontrunner at 7/2. Kevin Durant (9/2), Kawhi Leonard (13/2), LeBron James (15/2) and James Harden (8/1) round out the top five.
At 50/1, Embiid has the same odds as DeMar DeRozan, Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard. Embiid always jokes he wants to be a point guard one day, now he’s in the same company as some of the best in the league in this case.
Embiid’s odds are better than Draymond Green (60/1). Simmons follows behind Green at 66/1, ahead of Gordon Hayward (70/1), Carmelo Anthony (75/1), Jimmy Butler (75/1), and Andrew Wiggins (75/1).
Embiid only has played 31 games and Simmons has not played at all, yet they are right up there with All-Stars and proven players. Here’s the complete list:
Russell Westbrook (OKC) 7/2
Kevin Durant (GS) 9/2
Kawhi Leonard (SAN) 13/2
LeBron James (CLE) 15/2
James Harden (HOU) 8/1
Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL) 17/2
Steph Curry (GS) 11/1
Anthony Davis (NOP) 16/1
Paul George (OKC) 25/1
Chris Paul (HOU) 25/1
Isaiah Thomas (BOS) 25/1
DeMarcus Cousins (NOP) 33/1
Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN) 33/1
John Wall (WAS) 33/1
Blake Griffin (LAC) 40/1
Nikola Jokic (DEN) 40/1
DeMar Derozan (TOR) 50/1
Joel Embiid (PHI) 50/1
Kyrie Irving (CLE) 50/1
Damian Lillard (POR) 50/1
Draymond Green (GS) 60/1
Ben Simmons (PHI) 66/1
Gordon Hayward (BOS) 70/1
Carmelo Anthony (NYK) 75/1
Jimmy Butler (MIN) 75/1
Andrew Wiggins (MIN) 75/1
Kevin Love (CLE) 100/1
Kyle Lowry (TOR) 100/1
Kristaps Porzingis (NYK) 100/1
Marc Gasol (MEM) 150/1
Paul Millsap (DEN) 150/1
Kemba Walker (CHA) 150/1
Bradley Beal (WAS) 200/1
Mike Conley (MEM) 200/1
Dirk Nowitzki (DAL) 250/1
Andre Drummond (DET) 250/1
Dwight Howard (CHA) 250/1
Jeff Teague (MIN) 250/1
Hassan Whiteside (MIA) 250/1