For the record, Joel Embiid didn’t blame Ben Simmons for their Game 7 loss against the Atlanta Hawks last season. Instead, in a relatively late attempt to clear his name, Jojo blamed the media for creating and presenting that narrative.
Joel Embiid clears his name
Embiid guested on Draymond Green’s podcast, and they talked about a lot of stuff, including the controversial statements Embiid said after the Game 7 loss against the Atlanta Hawks last season. To remind you, Joel was asked what he thought was the game's turning point in the postgame interview, and he mentioned many things without naming anyone.
“I'll be honest. I thought the turning point was when we--I don't how to say it--but I thought the turning point was just, we had an open shot and we made one free throw, and we missed the other, and they came down and scored, and we didn't get a good possession on the other end, and Trae came back in and made a 3. Then, down 4, then, it's on me, I turned the ball over when I tried to make something happen on the perimeter. But, uh, I thought that was the turning point.”
The media ran the angle that Embiid blamed his teammate for passing a wide-open shot. But, as mentioned by Jojo, it was one of the main things that led to their loss, but not the only one.
The Philadelphia 76ers center blamed the media for sensationalizing his statements which probably drove a wedge into Ben and Joel’s relationship, leading to a fallout and trade request. From Embiid's point of view, he talked about a lot of things that went wrong in his post-game comments, but the media focused on one thing - Ben's missed dunk.
“I’m not gonna hold myself just because I gotta make people feel better, and I feel like I didn’t hurt anybody’s feelings. I mentioned, obviously the passed-up dunk..I didn’t even mention that! I said we missed an opportunity and then I actually called out Matisse for missing the free throw. I didn’t call him by name. I was like, ‘We missed a free throw’ and then I called out a bunch of events that happened after. I mentioned a bunch of other events when we made mistakes. I mentioned myself but the media’s gonna be the media.”
Joel Embiid, ‘The Draymond Green Show’
How miscommunication could have been avoided
It's very difficult for players to control their emotions after a heartbreaking loss, so in hindsight, Embiid probably could have said things more diplomatically. But what he said at that time was raw and pure. Had Ben Simmons dunked that possession, the game could have ended differently. Jojo also received criticism from the media for seemingly blaming his teammate.
It was a simple issue that could have been resolved had Embiid and Simmons acted like mature adults and sorted things privately. Instead, they let the media and fans have their say on the issue. In the end, things happened for a reason. From the fans' perspective, it’s a waste that the 76ers lineup with Embiid and Simmons failed to win anything. They were primed for a deep playoff run, but some things are not meant to be.