Mo Bamba opens up on challenging Sixers season, Joel Embiid, free agency values

CAMDEN, N.J. — It was a challenging 2023-24 season for Philadelphia 76ers big man Mo Bamba. Signed to a 1-year deal in the 2023 offseason, Bamba played 57 games, with 17 starts, and averaged 4.4 points and 4.2 rebounds along with 1.1 blocks per game.

Initially the third-string center behind Joel Embiid and Paul Reed, the Sixers turned to Bamba to start in the majority of the games Embiid missed due to the meniscus procedure he underwent. As a starter, Bamba averaged 6.2 points and 5.6 rebounds in 19.3 minutes per game.

When asked to describe his season, Bamba used the term “roller coaster” as things were a bit up and down for him.

“Not necessarily the minutes,” Bamba explained of his roller coaster claim. “It was just a wave of differing emotions in different parts of the season. For a lot of the season early on, it was just a matter of, like, just waiting for an opportunity, and when the opportunity comes, I was like ‘Alright’. Just had to change the mindset of just, like, you go from wanting something to happen to ‘Alright, now that it’s happened, how do I capitalize on the opportunity? And win this specific basketball game.’”

Bamba had to battle through not playing as much as he would have liked as well as a right knee injury that hampered him a bit throughout the season.

A big reason why Bamba joined the Sixers was due to his relationship with Embiid. The two of them are close friends and after the Round 1 elimination, the two had a phone call and Bamba expressed how proud he was of him.

“He called me,” Bamba recalled. “It was late because the game was over at 12, but he called me last night, and we just talked about things and how things went, but I told him ‘I’m real life proud of you, dog’. He’s been through a lot this year and he fought through a lot this year. The guy was out there on a leg and half his face—he couldn’t blink, you know? But I told him I was proud of him. I told him that he has to do some certain things and I’m looking forward to the future.”

Embiid played through so much adversity in the 2023-24 season and it showed up in the playoffs. Bamba, who has known him for a long time, wanted to let him know how much he appreciated him.

“I’ve known Jo before I even came into the league and there’s been a bunch of stuff kinda surrounding Jo and things that he’s gotten over and things that he’s gotten better at and, like, not being on the team, it’s easy to kinda hear those types of things and be like ‘Alright, this must be true’ or whatever,” Bamba added. “Being here and seeing how he works and seeing how he attacked every day even though he was nowhere near 100%, that’s what made most proud of him.”

As Bamba now prepares for free agency, the veteran out of Texas laid out some important values for himself and what he’s looking for.

“Just fit,” he explained. “Making sure I’m going somewhere anywhere—or even if it’s here—that it just makes sense. Obviously, it’s the NBA. There’s not a lot of—it’s not gonna be a perfect fit everywhere you go. That’s for any player, but just getting on page with the coaching staff, getting on page with the training staff, and everything.”

Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire