BOSTON — The 76ers' national media bandwagon is enormous, and Joel Embiid hears and sees all the hype the team has been receiving over the past few weeks.
"But my mindset has always been three, four years ago no one was around, no one was talking about us," he said. "So … anything that always comes, I'm like, that's nice. But where was everybody three or four years ago?
"So it's nice. But I don't really pay attention to it. That's when you got to keep staying focused and keep doing your job."
The Sixers have won 20 of their last 22 games and face the Boston Celtics tonight in Game 2 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series at TD Garden.
However, they were the laughingstock of the NBA as recently as two seasons ago. They finished that campaign 10-72, the second-worst record in franchise and NBA history. The 1972-73 Sixers were worse at 9-73.
That campaign was the third season of what turned out to be four seasons of tanking. And they were made fun of for their shortcomings around the country.
Think back to March 26, 2014. The Sixers made history, matching the record for consecutive losses by a U.S. professional team with their 26th defeat, a 120-98 beatdown in Houston.
The Sixers equaled the run of futility established by the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1976 and 1977 seasons and by the Cleveland Cavaliers, who set an NBA mark with 26 straight losses during the 2010-11 season.
Then after losing their last 10 games of the 2014-15 season, the Sixers began the 2015-16 campaign by dropping their first 18 games to establish an NBA-record 28-game losing streak. They would go on to lose 29 of their first 30 games en route to going 10-72.
Nowadays, the 10-72 campaign and 28-game losing streak seem like distant memories.
But Embiid hasn't forgotten how the team was viewed. He said he holds grudges "because three, four years ago, we were the laughingstock of the whole NBA."
"Now we are here," Embiid said. "Everybody is talking about us. I don't think it makes a difference.