For the first time in his NBA career, Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid is participating in his first Christmas Day game.
Prior to the contest, Embiid voiced much appreciation for the opportunity to play on the holiday given how things have unfolded in Philadelphia over his brief career, according to Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports.
Joel Embiid to play against the Knicks. "To me it’s special because I’ve been here for four years and we’ve gone through a lot and a lot of losing. To be in this type of matchup, especially with the whole world watching on Christmas, I’m excited," he said.
— Jessica Camerato (@JessicaCamerato) December 25, 2017
Prior to this season, the 76ers struggled to find any essence of consistent success with four straight seasons losing at least 50 games. However, things have taken a significant step forward this year with the emergence of rookie point guard Ben Simmons alongside Embiid. In fact, Philadelphia already has half of last year's win total of 28 games before the Christmas Day tilt.
Embiid has helped make them one of the most promising teams in the league with a bright future ahead that could see them quickly become a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference. Although it has been a roller coaster process this season, there is a strong core group that the 76ers can build a foundation of success over the next decade.
The fact that they are playing on Christmas Day demonstrates that the NBA has a strong belief that there could be much more to come down the line with Embiid and Simmons leading the charge in Philadelphia.