If Joel Embiid tells you something, you believe him. Especially if you were one his teammates at Kansas.
The 22-year-old native of Cameroon spoke at length with The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, and opened up about how he believes Americans perceive people from Africa — and how easy it is to fool them into believing anything about his culture.
“I feel like Americans don’t really have any idea of what’s going on in the world, especially us Africans,” Embiid said. “I feel like when they think about Africans, they think about just us running around with lions and tigers and all those other animals. When I got to Kansas I kind of used that to my advantage, talking about how I killed a lion and that’s how I became a man because at six years old I had to go into the jungle and kill a lion and carried it on my back to bring back to my village just to show that I’m a man. And they bought into it… I don’t know. It might be true, it might be false. I don’t know. But that’s the perception Americans have of Africans.”
“You could see the expressions,” Embiid said, when asked about the reactions of people when he told that story. “That makes them fear you. I kind of used that to my advantage, too. If you’re gonna tell someone ‘I killed a lion,’ they’re gonna be afraid of you and they’re not gonna come at you. So that was a way for me to make them be scared of me.
“The story might be true or it might be false. Nobody would ever know but if anybody tries me, they’re gonna find out.”
The third overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft’s story reads like a preview of an upcoming “30 for 30” documentary: “What if I told you I had to kill a lion and carry it back to my village to prove my manhood when I was 6?”
Little did his teammates with the Jayhawks realize that Embiid actually grew up in the Yaoundé, Cameroon, the nation’s capital and second-largest city with a population of 2.5 million people. Embiid went on to expand on his idea of the United States and the expectations he had of the country when he moved here.
“I always thought that the U.S. was just amazing and it was just a dream,” Embiid said. “I thought it was Heaven. Coming here a couple years ago, you know, the U.S. is still nice but it’s not like what I thought it was going to be. With the election going on, Donald Trump just got elected. I mean, I don’t usually get into politics, but with the way he’s been acting, talking about racism or women, it’s just hard to understand why people elected him. It just shows you the way people think. I feel like racism isn’t over… It’s just a shame.”
Embiid displayed his sense of humor in one of the best tweets of election night, comparing both the United States’ and the Philadelphia 76ers’ rebuilding process.
Well America is tanking!!! All we can do is Trust The Process…
— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) November 9, 2016