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Whatever you do, don’t call him Joel

Phoenix Suns rookie Deandre Ayton did not like being called Joel by some hack reporter

On the greatest night of Deandre Ayton’s life, being select #1 overall in the 2018 NBA Draft, he found that his new status in the NBA has already opened him up to trolling by All-Star center Joel Embiid.

Note the time (AZ time) on that tweet - mere minutes after Ayton was selected. Apparently one of the channels was comparing Ayton’s skillset to other great centers in history. I don’t know that Embiid was one of those comps. but he certainly doesn’t want to be.

Fellow NBA trash talker got a laugh.

Which prompted many to want Ayton’s reaction to Embiid’s troll job. You can watch this interview and see them trying to get him to respond.

So of course, we local media have to take a crack at it. We get several minutes into the presser in Phoenix and no one had yet asked Ayton about Joel’s comments, I figured I would do it.

As I was waiting my next turn on the rotating mic, I debated how to frame the opening.

Do I say, “A question about Joel ...”

Or do I say, “A question for Deandre, about Joel ...”

Either of those would have worked.

Neither of those are what actually came out of my mouth.

Just before my turn with the mic, I was reminded to state my name and affiliation for the record, and to address the player in question clearly, since there were seven people on stage taking questions (four rookies, plus Ryan McDonough, Igor Kokoskov and James Jones).

Here we go...


And I wasn’t even nervous!

You’d think I was a rookie. Yet, this is probably the hundredth press conference I’ve done, not even including post-game interviews which number in the 30s each season for the past six seasons.

Ahh well.

I had a good chuckle with Mikal Bridges over it later, but did not get a chance to crack a joke with Deandre, as he was swarmed by media.

Want an idea how many in-person folks heard that dumb question? These are post-presser shots of the crowd as the players were getting ready to hold up jerseys for pictures.

Then of course there’s all the live listeners, and social media, and well... I figured I’d share it here.

At least Deandre answered the question.

“Not at all,” he deadpanned, about whether he wanted to respond to Embiid.

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