NBA All-Star Joel Embiid told us why his relationship with the 76ers survived after a PR snafu in the spring, when the owners moved to cut pay for workers before retracting the decision

NBA All-Star Joel Embiid told us why his relationship with the 76ers survived after a PR snafu in the spring, when the owners moved to cut pay for workers before retracting the decision
John Raoux/AP

Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid pointed to his relationship with upper management as one of the reasons he is bullish about the team's prospects and has moved past a PR snafu in the spring when its owner moved to cut pay for workers before quickly retracting the decision.

Embiid, 26, spoke with Business Insider about that very decision for a profile of the man who was involved with making it: the team's owner Josh Harris.

The long story short is that Embiid was loathe to place blame on Harris, saying multiple people were likely involved in the decision, and that ever since he joined the 76ers as the first pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, he's felt supported — like he's been part of a family.

"I think in life, we all make mistakes," said Embiid.

Since joining the 76ers, Embiid has become a fan favorite after it took him some time to appear on court.


He was sidelined for his first two seasons, and nicknamed himself "The Process," in the spirit of trusting the process of building a winning team. Once that happened, he averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks in his 31 games during the 2016-2017 season.

Read more: Billionaire investor Josh Harris is vying to add the New York Mets to his sports empire. Tycoons, colleagues and an NBA star reveal his playbook.

His emergence as a player has been associated with the team's improvement over the years, winning more and more games. In 2017 and 2018, the 76ers had their first winning season in six years, and made back-t0-back trips to the playoffs.

Lately, though, his work has carried outside of the basketball court.

This year, as the coronavirus pandemic picked up, Embiid took it upon himself to research ways he could help find a cure to COVID-19, or otherwise support those diagnosed. That included raising money with Harris, the owner, and his business partner, David Blitzer, to the tune of $1.3 million, which will fund COVID antibody testing of front line health care workers.


"I was trying to figure out the best way to help people in these tough times," Embiid told Business Insider.

Embiid cited his relationship with Harris as one reason he came away from the pay cut episode feeling good about team management going forward.

He said Harris had quickly tried to make the situation better after Embiid reached out in March.

"Since I got to Philly, he's made me feel like a partner instead of treating me like someone who works for him," said Embiid. "He values my input and we got it fixed."

Another instance he pointed to was when Harris paid a visit to Embiid's New York apartment this past winter, after the team hadn't performed as well as they hoped and Embiid felt like he was in a slump. Harris offered moral support and asked what he could do.


"Our motto is that we want to treat everbody like family," said Embiid. "Since I got here, they've treated me as such."

Despite his attention to coronavirus, it hasn't taken his eye off the ball.

Even though he personally had a good year last season, the 76ers failed to advance past the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second consecutive year.

Now he has his sights set on changing course, and winning an NBA championship. He cited it as his biggest goal.

"I think we have a chance to make it happen," he said. "That is the first step. And once you get that first one, you are going to think about a couple more."


You can read the full profile of 76ers owner Josh Harris here.