SALT LAKE CITY - 76ers rookie Joel Embiid heard what Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins said about him after Monday night's head-to-head battle in California. And Embiid had a message for the two-time all-star.
"I don't think I'm going to have to wait until he retires to be the best big man in the league," the big man said Wednesday after practice at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
After leading to the Kings to a 102-100 victory, Cousins made complimentary remarks about Embiid. However, he wanted folks to know he was and would continue to be the league's best center.
"I like that kid a lot," Cousins told the Kings' sideline reporter. "I don't give a lot of people props, but I like that kid a lot. I think he's got a great chance of being the best big in this league . . . after I retire."
Cousins finished with 30 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals, and two blocks to lead the Kings to their fourth consecutive win. He went 2 for 4 on three-pointers and sank 8 of 9 foul shots.
Embiid finished with 25 points, eight rebounds, two steals, one assist, and two blocks. His lone blemish was eight turnovers.
Perhaps the highlight of their battle was an exchange of spirited butt slaps. After Embiid was whistled for traveling, Cousins gave Embiid a swift pat on the backside. Embiid returned the favor. So Cousins responded with another tap and Embiid answered with another to Cousins' butt.
"I didn't understand the [turnover] call, and I was just laughing," Embiid said. "He just slapped my butt. I was just like 'Why is he slapping my butt?' I went back at him - not to look like a punk, just to show him I ain't going for that.
"It's all fun. Basketball is about having fun."