Thunder-Sixers has become an inordinately frisky inter-conference rivalry. Last season’s two matchups were marked by relentless shit-talking and mockery on-court and online between Sixers center Joel Embiid and Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook. A lot of waving goodbye was involved. The teams played this afternoon, and though the Thunder came out on top again—they haven’t lost to the Sixers since 2008—Embiid at least got in a violently hard foul on Westbrook in the final two minutes.
In that clip, Embiid drills Westbrook like he’s a strong safety with a free shot at a wide receiver on a batted ball, and Westbrook briefly, performatively, and justifiably goes after Embiid. (Neither player was injured and no technical fouls were called.) After the game, Embiid insisted that the hit was unintentional, and resorted to his usual tactic when asked why Westbrook might be pissed: “Why he’s mad I have no idea, but he’s always in his feelings.”
Joel Embiid is a better basketball player than Russell Westbrook now, but Westbrook is a more honest, first-order talker. Rather than accusing Embiid of being obsessed with him and insisting that he was actually Not Mad, Westbrook gave an emphatic “Fuck no!” when asked if they were cool:
Please let these teams play more than twice a year.