Joel Embiid's Remarkable Journey: From Late Basketball Start to NBA MVP

Joel Embiid and Nneka Ogwumike: Unique Paths Unveiled

by Nouman Rasool
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Joel Embiid's Remarkable Journey: From Late Basketball Start to NBA MVP
© Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Joel Embiid's ascent in the world of basketball has been nothing short of remarkable. The Philadelphia 76ers drafted him as the third overall pick in 2014, setting the stage for a rollercoaster career. Despite early setbacks due to a knee injury, Embiid made his debut in 2016 and displayed immense promise.

Over the next six years, he became a household name, earning six All-Star selections, five All-NBA Team honors, and three All-Defensive Team nods. However, what's truly astonishing is that Joel Embiid didn't even consider playing basketball until he turned 15.

Hailing from Cameron, Embiid's childhood was primarily filled with volleyball and football. Fast forward to 2023, and he stands as the NBA MVP, boasting an impressive 33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game in the 2023 season.

Nneka Ogwumike's Surprising Career Revelation

In a surprising twist, Joel Embiid's WNBA 'doppelganger,' Nneka Ogwumike, recently unveiled her alternative career path, echoing the versatile journey of the NBA MVP. Ogwumike, drafted as the #1 pick by the Los Angeles Sparks in 2012, has been an indispensable asset to her team, combining her basketball prowess with strong leadership skills.

In the 2023 season, she started 12 out of 13 games, averaging an impressive 19.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, and a career-high 3.5 assists per game. Notably, Ogwumike now holds the record for most steals in franchise history with 507 and has earned the Western Conference Player Award.

During a recent appearance on the 'Knuckleheads Podcast,' the 2016 WNBA MVP shared her alternate career path. Surprisingly, Ogwumike initially believed volleyball to be a straightforward sport, unaware of its intricate formations and tactics.

She revealed, "I started learning that there's strategy in volleyball too. And it was something that really helped me with my footwork as well. Volleyball held basketball, and basketball held volleyball. I really do believe that if I wasn't playing basketball, I would definitely be a volleyball player." On the flip side, it's intriguing to note that Joel Embiid could have pursued a professional volleyball career himself.

Growing up in Yaoundé, Cameroon, he initially considered enrolling at the National Institute for Sports and Physical Education in France with aspirations of becoming a professional volleyball player. Football and volleyball were his main sports during his formative years, with basketball barely making a blip on his radar.

However, his fate took a dramatic turn when he witnessed Kobe Bryant's dominance in the 2010 NBA Finals, sparking his interest in basketball. Despite entering the sport relatively late at 16, Embiid's natural talent shone through.

A scholarship offer from Florida's Montverde Academy, extended after being noticed by former NBA player Luc Mbah a Moute at a Basketball Without Borders program, set him on the path to basketball stardom. Embiid's journey from early volleyball and late basketball beginnings to becoming an NBA superstar is a testament to his unwavering dedication and innate skill. It adds a unique layer to his remarkable basketball journey, one that has captivated fans worldwide.

Joel Embiid
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