NBA

Joel Embiid says he was inspired to play basketball by Kobe Bryant.

Joel Embiid explains how Kobe Bryant inspired him to play basketball

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After coming through two years of injury hell, Joel Embiid has finally proven his health and developed into one of the best centers in the NBA.

The Philadelphia 76ers star completed 63 games in the regular season and eight in the playoffs, which is almost equivalent to a full campaign.

He averaged a career-high 22.9 points and 11.0 rebounds and made his first All-Star appearance.

Embiid has worked extremely hard to get to this point and revealed a few months ago that he almost quit the game as he was struggling to overcome his injury nightmare mentally.

But he persevered and continued to push himself as he knew just how good he could become.

Kobe inspiration

Another reason why he persisted and didn't give up was thanks to his idol Kobe Bryant.

Unfortunately for Embiid, he was unable to take to the court to compete against the Black Mamba in his final season in 2016 as he was still sidelined but he recalls how he had the chance to have a one-on-one chat with him.

In a personal piece he wrote on The Players’ Tribune, he described how he was inspired by a simple piece of advice from the Los Angeles Lakers legend.

“He laughed and we talked for a minute, and then before he left he said the most Kobe thing," Embiid said.

Embiid wasn't able to play against Kobe in his final season due to injury

"To most people, it wouldn’t mean anything. But to me, it was surreal. It was like I was in a video game or something.

“He said, in the most Kobe way, ‘O.K., young fella. Keep working. Keep working.'”

In response to the piece, Bryant brilliantly took to Twitter to reiterate the message to the big man.

The 24-year-old has certainly taken that on board and used it as his development shows how much he's worked to get to the level he's at.

Embiid is not prepared to stop there either as he's finally enjoying a healthy offseason and is predicting big things for himself next year.

As well as the advice he got from Kobe, the Cameroonian described his most memorable conversation with the five-time champion during that same visit to Philadelphia.

He explained to the future Hall of Famer how he inspired him to play the game of basketball.

Embiid credit Bryant as one of his biggest inspirations

“The most surreal moment was when Kobe was retiring, and he played his last game in Philly," he said.

"After the game, they set up a little room for us to talk for a minute. He walked in, and I shook his hand and I told him, “Man, I know you probably hear this a lot, but I literally started playing basketball because of you seven years ago.

"Whenever I’d be shooting the ball at the park, I’d be yelling out, ‘KOBEEEEEE!’”

It's now easy to see where Embiid's hunger and competitiveness comes from. His ultimate aim will be to enjoy the same level of success as Bryant did.

CLICK HERE to listen to Episode Two of the new GiveMeSport NBA podcast, featuring New York Times senior writer Marc Stein. Subscribe for all future episodes.

Topics:
Kobe Bryant
Joel Embiid
Philadelphia 76ers
L.A. Lakers
NBA

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