NBA litness test: Joel Embiid is a Troll God and LeBron James is the King of New York

Joel Embiid is a star on the court and on social media.

Welcome to “NBA litness test,” a Yahoo Sports feature, wherein we review the week in NBA on and off court action to determine the degree to which events are, and aren’t, lit on a scale of one to four fire emojis. It’s that simple. 

Joel Embiid: Troll God

The alternate name for this feature is “Joel Embiid’s Week in Review.”

Let’s take it back to Wednesday night, the moment so many of us had been patiently waiting for. After all the yapping back and forth between Embiid and LaVar Ball, the father of one Lonzo Ball, the stage was set for an epic showdown when the 76ers visited Staples Center.  

The Cameroonian Hakeem Olajuwon torched the Los Angeles Lakers for an unheard of 46 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, and 7 blocks and told an NBCSN Philadelphia reporter his conditioning level was at 69 percent.  

After the game, a nation waited on pins and needles for Embiid’s next Instagram. And he didn’t disappoint.

Check the location.

Litness test: This clearly passes the litness test, and would have been four fire emojis, but Embiid clarifying there’s no criticism of Lonzo Ball intended takes some of the heat off. Come on JoJo, stick to your guns!

Now let’s fast forward a few days to when the young Sixers hosted none other than the Golden State Warriors. Philadelphia had the Wells Fargo Center rocking, jumping out to a 22-point halftime lead. Of course, Embiid engaged in some friendly chirping with fellow WWE heel Draymond Green.

Things didn’t end well for the Sixers, who went ice-cold in the second half and fell victim to, well, the Golden State Warriors.   

Even in a loss, Embiid made sure to get his 3-1 lead joke in.

And, though he’s just in his second year on the court, Embiid’s troll game is already so feared it is a legitimate motivating factor for the defending NBA champions.

Litness test: This is a three-emoji fire, but once again Embiid walking it back cools things down. It’s OK. Embiid is young and he’s learning.


LeBron James declares himself the King of New York

Like Kendrick Lamar did before him, King James, a non-native son (who doesn’t even follow proper subway protocol) claimed all five boroughs as his own after leading the Cavaliers’ come-from-behind win over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Brooklyn’s own Jay-Z wasn’t going to take this insult lying down, taking a moment during his Ohio concert to declare himself the new King of Cleveland.

Litness level: The response from Jay-Z, and the hope it instilled in New York fans that LeBron might one day call the city home, make this effort three emojis strong.  

Lonzo Ball learns the rules of NBA Fight Club

While his father might be ready to square up against anyone who crosses his path, even, say, a sitting U.S. president, young Lonzo Ball is not about that life.

With the clock winding down on what would be another Lakers’ loss, this time to the Suns, things got testy between L.A.’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Phoenix’s Tyler Ulis. And Ball could not have been more disinterested.

Ball explained his response to reporters after the game.

It’s the NBA,” he said. “People ain’t really gonna fight. I ain’t trying to get no tech.”

Which, OK, true, but you gotta at least pretend like you’ve got your teammates’ back.

Not to worry though, an anonymous Lakers player has reportedly counseled the 19-year-old Ball on the intricate rules of NBA Fight Club.  

Litness test: Passively watching as your teammate gets into a fight, even if it is an NBA “fight,” is decidedly un-lit. Thus, Lonzo fails the litness test.  

Reggie Jackson successfully trolls Jimmy Butler into missing a free throw

There’s nothing like some good old-fashioned gamesmanship.

Sunday night in Minnesota, Jimmy Butler found himself at the free throw line trailing 98-95 with just 6.2 seconds remaining. After Butler sank his first two shots, Detroit’s Reggie Jackson got innovative. As Butler lined up to attempt the game-tying shot, Jackson called for teammate Stanley Johnson to step in the lane.

The distraction worked, as Butler, a career 83 percent free-throw shooter, missed the shot and the Pistons celebrated accordingly.

It also spawned a fantastic new reaction GIF.

Litness level: Because it paid off, this tactic earns a strong four-emoji rating that not even Lance Stephenson can put out

Honorable mentions:

Kyle Kuzma for trying it

It’s probably a good thing Kuzma missed this. I don’t think we as a society were prepared for a world where Kyle Kuzma jammed all over Joel Embiid.

Jahlil Okafor’s dad for wearing a “Free Jah” shirt to Warriors-Sixers At this point, we can all agree that we just want Jahlil Okafor to be happy.

Portland’s CJ McCollum for telling Orlando’s Evan Fournier (who is French) he’s “sweet and soft like the crepes you eat.” Mmmmmmmm.

Chrissy Teigen for playing “Super Mario Odyssey” while sitting courtside at a Lakers game

Chrissy is a must-follow on every social media platform.

Gregg Popovich for being Gregg Popovich

Steve Kerr for saying what we’re all thinking

Preach, Steve.

Dwight Howard for being extremely amped to be at SmackDown

It’s good to see Howard happy.

These Zhou Qi fans for bringing life to an otherwise dead Talking Stick Resort Arena during Houston’s rout of the Suns.

You know it’s real when the broadcast does a split-screen with the fans DURING a play.

Honorable Mentions (Awwwwwww edition)

LeBron James’ daughter for showing off her skills

Watch out, WNBA. Zhuri James got “super ways away next.”

Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell for surprising his mom with a car

Moms are awesome and you should celebrate them at every turn.

Team account tweets of the week

The Toronto Raptors

James Harden did drop 38 on Toronto, but facts have never gotten in the way of a good meme.

The Sacramento Kings

The Atlanta Hawks

Not again, MARTA!

NBC Sports Philadelphia

 (OK that one’s not technically a team account but tell me you didn’t LOL.)