If you find yourself shopping for video games sometime this fall, don’t be surprised to see the face of Joel Embiid staring back at you.
EA Sports announced Monday night the former University of Kansas center and current Philadelphia 76ers star will grace the cover of its upcoming release, “NBA Live 19.”
So even though the evening’s NBA Awards show didn’t include Embiid going home with some hardware — he finished second to Rudy Gobert for Defensive Player of the Year — it still went down as a sort of milestone night for the 24-year-old big man.
Embiid, remember, has only played in two seasons (94 regular-season games between them) and already is marketable enough to become the face of a video game franchise.
Although 2K Sports’ “NBA 2K” series is far more popular than its “NBA Live” competitor, some major names from The Association have graced recent covers of “NBA Live,” including two players who can now call themselves MVPs, Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook.
Only the biggest and brightest talents get their likenesses attached to video games and Embiid, an all-star starter in 2018, now has crossed another distinction off his career bucket list.
This past season, his second in the league, Embiid averaged 22.9 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 3.2 assists, while shooting 48.3 percent from the floor and playing in 63 games.
Look for Embiid’s stone-faced pose on “NBA Live 19” when it is released, on Sept. 7.
In the two-plus years since Joel Embiid left Kansas for the NBA, his injury-plagued career has kept him from playing any games for the Philadelphia 76ers. But the 7-foot-2 center from Cameroon somehow found a way to stay relevant in the league’s zeitgeist by becoming an internet/Twitter/Instagram star.
In particular, videos of Embiid going through basketball workouts during his rehab process became both wildly popular for fans of the Sixers and the young big man, while simultaneously serving as fodder for jokes about him never appearing in an actual professional game.
Well, The Ringer took the Embiid mythology to another level Wednesday, when Kevin O’Connor’s story on the 22-year-old prospect included a mockumentary on the former KU star.
Titled, “Joel Embiid: Legacy of a Legend,” the video includes such one-liners as:
“This is what watching Wilt Chamberlain in person must’ve felt like.”
“And there’s a revelation: Oh my God. LeBron James is trash.”
“Joel Embiid is one of the bravest men, probably on the face of the planet.”
Perhaps the jokes will stop this coming season, when Embiid is on schedule to make his NBA debut. Or perhaps more injury setbacks will continue to group the promising center with the likes of Greg Oden.
Some people think Embiid could win Rookie of the Year, and others will remain skeptical until he proves them wrong.
No matter where you stand on the Embiid debate, The Ringer’s video tribute is worth checking out.
— Watch the mockumentary below:
As sweet a life as the NBA provides its players, it honestly can’t be all that much fun to play for one of the league’s struggling franchises.
Still, former one-year Kansas standout Ben McLemore proved to be a good sport when someone with Sacramento pitched him the idea of paying tribute to a viral video that exploded across social media a few days ago.
If you’ve been on Twitter or Facebook or any other social media platform in the past 72 hours, surely you’ve come across the video of a woman laughing hysterically as she tries on her Star Wars Chewbacca mask.
In a parody of the latest queen of the Internet, the third-year Kings guard claims on camera he just got back from the store and is excited about his purchase.
What did McLemore supposedly buy?
A Chewbacca mask. The Sacramento guard isn’t moved to hysteria over trying out the mask, which comes with a recorded Wookiee roar, but he enjoyed the gag all the same.
Check out the video, tweeted out by the Kings, below:
At least one thing about Andrew Wiggins' transition to the NBA will be nice and simple: the one-and-done Kansas University product will continue to play basketball in adidas shoes.
The official outfitter for KU athletics through 2019, adidas announced a professional partnership with Wiggins, Cleveland's No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft, on Wednesday morning.
At about the same time, Wiggins shared the news via his Instagram account.
ESPN's Darren Rovell first reported the endorsement deal Tuesday night. His sources said the multi-year contract guarantees the incoming rookie at least $2 million a year.
In a report on Forbes.com, Darren Heitner revealed the contract includes a provision that would allow him to opt out of it and "revisit the marketplace" before the deal expires.
Heitner spoke with Wiggins' agent, Bill Duffy of BDA Sports Management. The agent said the contract included a confidentiality provision, meaning specific money figures couldn't be disclosed. But Duffy told Forbes it's "safe to say it's the greatest rookie contract adidas has ever done in basketball." According to Heitner's report, the deal includes a royalty scale designed to compensate Wiggins as he grows as an NBA player.
As part of the agreement, outlined by Forbes, Wiggins will make international trips and other appearances for adidas throughout the deal.
Rovell wrote Wiggins became the first No. 1 overall pick to sign with the company since Chicago's Derrick Rose, in 2008.
Duke's Jabari Parker, chosen one pick after Wiggins by the Milwaukee Bucks, signed with Nike's Jordan Brand before the draft.
Some speculated Wiggins also would sign with Nike, especially when he wore a pair of old school Jordans the first time he put on a Cleveland uniform, as part of his introductory press conference — photos from which can be seen on Cleveland's website.
But the Forbes report stated Wiggins and adidas "had an idea they would be bound by a contractual agreement for a few weeks."
Now that the 19-year-old from Vaughan, Ontario, Canada is a professional, Wiggins also has rolled out his own website: andrewwiggins.pro. It provides links to his social media accounts, a look at his own personal logo and, in general, information on all things Andrew Wiggins.
After an up-and-down rookie season with the NBA's Sacramento Kings, former Kansas University standout Ben McLemore is back in Lawrence.
The talented 6-foot-5 shooting guard already has logged offseason minutes in Allen Fieldhouse, of course, working on his game — McLemore averaged 8.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, shot 37.6% from the floor and made 32% of his 3-pointers in his first year in the league.
The 21-year-old met with reporters Thursday to discuss not only his crash course in professional basketball, but his reason for returning to the campus where he spent two years and played one season of basketball for KU.
As McLemore tweeted out, finishing his education is a substantial part of his summer focus.
The KU athletics department provided some highlights from McLemore's session with local media.
Look for much more on McLemore and his first season in the NBA Friday on KUsports.com.
Very few college basketball coaches own a résumé as impressive as Bill Self's.
Now in his 11th season of leading Kansas University's men's basketball program, Self has a 316-64 record at KU, his teams have won nine-straight Big 12 regular-season championships and six Big 12 tournaments and, of course, he steered the Jayhawks to the 2008 national championship, as well as the 2012 Final Four and three other trips to the Elite Eight (his KU teams are 25-9 in the NCAA tournament).
Difficult as it might be to envision Self coaching any other team, between his consistent success at the college level and the respect his players have for him, it's easy to presume he would make a nice fit as an NBA coach, too, if a professional organization ever came knocking on his door.
Self talked about that very subject on The Seth Davis Show, on CampusInsiders.com.
Davis, a college basketball reporter for Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports, brought up the NBA to Self during a 30-minute interview with the KU coach, and began the discussion by mentioning how the Boston Celtics lured Brad Stevens away from Butler, even though few college coaches are sought after by NBA front offices these days.
Self told Davis he has never received an NBA job offer, and has only had a few people talk to him "generically" about such a scenario. Self added he was happy for Stevens, and he expects Boston's first-year coach to eventually experience success with the Celtics, which should help other college coaches land NBA jobs in the future.
But Self said the NBA isn't something that interests him right now:
"I'm not looking at all. I really believe I've got one of the better coaching jobs in America — pro or college — right here in Lawrence, Kansas. So it would take something really special, and my mindset would have to change, but right now, I'm really enjoying trying to get college kids better. That to me is somethings we take great pride in and something that we all enjoy doing."
The NBA back-and-forth begins around the 23:45 mark of the video, but it's definitely worth checking out in its entirety. Davis also asks Self about the play of Andrew Wiggins, chasing a second national championship and the coach's days as a student at Oklahoma State, when he used to hang out with country music star Garth Brooks.
— Just FYI, the interview took place before KU's loss at Texas, so the topics are more broad than what is going on at this exact moment with the program.
Embiid's former coach talks center's potential
Campus Insiders also had a segment on Jayhawks freshman center Joel Embiid a few days ago.
The discourse, which includes a Q & A with the seven-footer's Rock High School head coach, Justin Harden, provides some insight on Embiid's game and how it began to evolve before he graduated and moved on to Kansas.
Harden describes Embiid as an introvert whose personality changes when he is on the court.
As you'd expect, the conversation inevitably veers toward the subject of the NBA Draft. Harden is asked about the likelihood of Embiid going pro upon the completion of his freshman season. Here is the high school coach's response:
"I don't have any insider information, to be honest, but it's hard for me to believe a kid who comes from an African nation, regardless of their background, to pass up that kind of opportunity. Especially if you're the No. 1 overall pick. We've seen people in football or basketball get hurt, and then kind of lose that status, so I would suggest that he go, because in the NBA, he's only gonna get better."
DraftExpress.com's latest mock draft has Embiid as the top pick in 2014, followed by his KU teammate, Wiggins.
For the time being at least, the loss also seems to have slightly damaged KU's potential claim for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
In Michael Beller's Bracket Watch, at SI.com, The Jayhawks currently project as a No. 2 seed.
The teams Beller has ahead of KU, up on the No. 1 seed line, are Syracuse (21-0), Arizona (21-1), Wichita State (23-0) and Florida (19-2).
Hard to argue with those choices.
CBSsports.com has Kansas as a No. 2 seed, as well.
The CBS website's No. 1 seeds as of Monday morning are Syracuse, Arizona, Wichita State and San Diego State (19-1).
This time, it's the Aztecs (like the Gators, a team that beat KU in the non-conference) occupying that fourth spot, which seems more open to debate than the other three.