There may be no crying in baseball, but maybe there is in basketball.
Case in point: an unbelievable rim-bouncing buzzer beater by Toronto Raptors’ forward Kawhi Leonard in the final seconds of Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Philadelphia 76ers, moving the Raptors forward and shutting the Sixers down until next season.
Fans went crazy, but at least one person was left in tears.
Sixers center Joel Embiid went viral after he was captured on camera crying his way back into the locker room, comforted only by his girlfriend Anne De Paula.
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But whether or not he got sympathy elsewhere is a mixed bag. Some, like NBA Sports Philadelphia and ex-NFL linebacker Seth Joyner, weren’t feeling the weeping.
When you pour you soul into what you do and come up short, I understand the emotions!! But come on, crying publicly on your opponents & girlfriends shoulder, that’s a bit too much!! Cry in the locker room or home! The world doesn’t have to witness your tears to know you care! JMO
— Seth Joyner (@sethjoyner) May 13, 2019
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This quickly sparked a debate about if its unprofessional or brave for a pro athlete to show that sort of emotion in public. Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert came to Embiid’s defense posting, “Only losers think that crying is a sign of weakness… only shows how much of a competitor and winner you are!”
Embiid struggled with both a sore knee and an upper respiratory infection during this year’s playoffs and reportedly felt like he was shouldering much of the blame for his team’s elimination from the Eastern Conference semifinals.
But according to NJ.com, when he got wind of the hooplah surrounding his reaction, instead of getting upset he joined in on the fun; changing his Twitter profile picture to the screenshot of him crying on the court.
OMG this profile picture.
Not to be dramatic or anything, but I would literally follow Joel Embiid to the ends of the earth. pic.twitter.com/hrKt840flf
— Missy Perez (@missyperez) May 15, 2019
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WPVI-TV reports that a little girl in Pennsylvania, who also happens to be a big 76ers fan, was so touched by Embiid’s moment of sadness she even wrote him a note to lift his spirits.
This letter from a 9-year-old 76ers fan to Joel Embiid will warm your heart.
📷: @6abc pic.twitter.com/YpnAseIIhb
— Religion of Sports (@religionofsport) May 14, 2019
“I thought he showed his emotions. I knew he was upset that he lost. I’ve lost basketball games too,” she explained to the local station. Adding, “I am sad, but I’m ok with it because I’ve won a bunch of games too, and same with Joel Embiid.”
Meanwhile, while he may have made the shot of the season, Leonard and the Raptors have their work cut out for them. They lost 108-100 in the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks. Game 2 tips off Friday evening.