Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid will make his highly anticipated regular season debut on Wednesday after sitting out his first two seasons with a foot injury, but his journey to the NBA began years ago, in front of a computer screen.
Embiid, 22, was the No. 3 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, despite picking up basketball just four years earlier. Kobe Bryant inspired his love of the sport, but YouTube videos of average people helped him hone his own game.
In a profile for SI's The Crossover, Embiid tells Lee Jenkins that he learned to shoot from watching videos of white people on the internet.
"When Embiid was injured, he did not grant interviews, so he has a lot to say. He speaks with a French accent, in a flowing stream of consciousness, about everything from Cameroon’s educational system to Florida’s topography to Marc Gasol’s jab step. He is engaging, charismatic and funny, but unlike many foreign big men, his humor is intentional. 'You know how I learned to shoot?' Embiid says. 'I watched white people. Just regular white people. They really put their elbow in and finish up top. You can find videos of them online.'"
Embiid averaged 32.2 points and 16.9 rebounds per 40 minutes this preseason, and will show off his skills in his first regular season game on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Read Jenkins's full story here.