Joel Embiid's introduction to the NBA is everything Philadelphia imagined

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Ben Rohrbach
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Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid is a legend in the making. (Getty Images)
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid is a legend in the making. (Getty Images)

The Joel Embiid experience is real, and it’s fantastic.

The oft-injured 7-footer achieved legendary status this summer, when he finally took the floor for the Philadelphia 76ers and asked to be introduced as “The Process,” a nod to erstwhile GM Sam Hinkie’s rebuilding plan, which resulted in Embiid’s selection with the No. 3 overall pick in 2014.

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This does not even take into account Embiid’s admissions to drinking gallons of Shirley Temples and learning to shoot by watching “just regular white people,” so to say the NBA was anticipating the former Kansas center’s regular-season debut for the Sixers was a massive understatement.

And somehow he lived up to all the hype. If he was introduced as “The Process” prior to Wednesday’s home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, you wouldn’t know it, because the Philly crowd was so damn loud. (You might even say the fans were a little too overzealous.) During pregame warmups, he threw down a between-the-legs dunk with almost no effort at all.

The legend only grew with each passing personal first for Embiid. The first basket of his NBA career was an up-fake from the 3-point arc, one dribble to the top of the key, a fake spin move and a turnaround jump shot that hit nothing but net. It came 3:43 into the game, and it was everything everyone expected — a revolutionary 7-footer with wingman skill — realized in one fell swoop.

Sixteen seconds later, Embiid got his first block, sliding to help on defense and reject expected MVP candidate Russell Westbrook with spectacular authority, and starting a fast break on the other end.

As our Eric Freeman noted, “He also had a steal where he took the ball up the court, fumble-passed to Dario Saric, and got a give-and-go 20 feet ahead of him. It was a glorious, glorious first quarter.” These are the sort of reactions Embiid elicited from across the basketball world. Just plain awe.

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Embiid’s first 3-pointer came on an open look 4:48 into the second quarter. Again, nothing but net. It gave the Sixers a 39-31 advantage. By then, he had five points and four rebounds in 6:30, but it wasn’t so much the collection of statistics, but how smoothly and resoundingly he compiled them. He finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, a pair of blocks and four turnovers in 22 minutes of the Sixers’ 103-97 loss to the Thunder.

Of course, it didn’t take long for fans to start “trust the process” and “MVP” chants in his honor.

Basketball is back in Philadelphia, and its name is Joel Embiid. Sixers fans love “The Process” … and “The Process” loves them right back.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don’t Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!