Posted on July 9, 2017, by Travis Pulver
When he did play last season, Philadelphia 76ers center/forward Joel Embiid, was one of the more entertaining players on the court. Fans of the 76ers are hoping he’ll actually be on the court more next season, but in the meantime, they love his other game—his social media game.
The NBA, however, is not.
Embiid has been having a social media spat with LaVar Ball, the father of Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball. For the most part, it has been harmless, PG-13 (or PG) type fun. But a recent Instagram post by Embiid was a little more than the NBA cared to see.
What did he do? He made his feelings on LaVar Ball pretty clear with the dreaded ‘F-bomb.’ For doing so, the NBA has fined Embiid $10,000. The announcement was made in a press release (h/t PBT):
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid has been fined $10,000 for using inappropriate language on social media, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.
Embiid didn’t say anything that many people haven’t thought or expressed through social media regarding the elder Ball. But if the NBA were to try and clean up the internet—well, it would be a lost battle before it starts.
The league does, however, have some sway over its employees and the players. Just like the other professional sports leagues, the NBA has a right to protect the brand. The brand, which is in large part the product that takes the court, is what advertisers and networks spend millions of dollars on. They may not be as eager to associate their network or product with some vulgar, foul-mouthed, disrespectful kid.
Do they think NBA players don’t curse or talk trash? Of course not. But they don’t want to see it broadcast to 790,000 followers who then share it with their followers who share it with—the potential for mass exposure is endless.
From a business perspective, it is not hard to understand why the NBA has a problem with Embiid’s language. However, while players may make a fortune thanks to the opportunity, the NBA provides them. But the league doesn’t own them. They still have the right to say what they want however they want. This should especially hold true when the comments are not directly about another team or player.
But does Embiid even care? It’s probably annoying to be told to watch his mouth. But what’s $10,000 to a guy that has made $13.9 million and has only played in 31 games? It’s a drop in the bucket.
There is no word on whether he’ll appeal the fine. But if history tells us anything, it will not work. The NBA has fined guys for the language they used in Twitter tirades in the past. A few years ago, J.R. Smith was hit with a $25,000 fine as was Matt Barnes. The year before, Amare Stoudemire received a $50,000 fine.
However, in each case, more was involved than a single inappropriate word.
It will be interesting to see if Embiid or the player’s union try to fight the fine. If they don’t, maybe this is something the other leagues should consider to protect their product’s image.