Thursday was one of the best days of Joel Embiid’s life. After enduring a series of setbacks over the first few years of his NBA career, battling his way back from injury after injury, and narrowly missing out on the chance to take part in the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, the 76ers star was named to his very first NBA All-Star team. He was named a starter for the Eastern Conference alongside LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kyrie Irving, and DeMar DeRozan.
But that wasn’t all. In addition to being named an All-Star, Embiid also seemingly snagged himself a date with Rihanna in the process. If you haven’t been keeping up, Embiid set his sights on scoring a date with Rih-Rih back in 2014. But according to him, she responded to his numerous date requests by saying she would only go out with him once he made an All-Star team. In fact, he said her exact words were: "Come back when you’re a All-Star."
So his All-Star selection was supposed to be accompanied by a date with one of the most famous women in the entire world—and Embiid’s fans were quick to let her know about it. They hounded Rihanna on social media once Embiid was officially named an All-Star and reminded her of what she had apparently said more than three years ago.
But when Embiid was actually asked about landing a date with Rihanna following the 76ers’ win over the Celtics on Thursday night, he threw everyone a curveball. He clearly remembered the stipulation Rihanna had laid out before him in 2014. But he said that, now that he’s an All-Star, he is the one who’s no longer interested in dating her. Embiid publicly curved Rihanna during a live post-game interview.
"She denied me back then. There’s no reason to go back to her," Embiid said. "So I gotta move on to the next one. There’s a lot of pretty women out there, and I’m beautiful, so I gotta move on to the next one."
Rihanna herself hasn’t chimed in on any of this just yet. But we should point out that there is a chance—a good chance, actually—that Embiid and Rihanna could cross paths at NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles. We wouldn't leave the possibility of Rihanna performing with Pharrell and N*E*R*D when they take the stage at halftime of the game out of the picture, and even if she doesn’t, she will probably end up being in the building when the game is played. And who knows? Maybe those old feelings Embiid felt back in 2014 will pop up again.
For now, though, let’s take a look back at how we got here. From the first tweet Embiid ever sent out about Rihanna to the curve heard ‘round the NBA community, this is a brief history of Embiid and Rihanna’s "relationship."
July 2014: Embiid Says He’s Over Kim Kardashian and 'Moving On' to Rihanna
At one point back in 2014, Embiid was enamored with Kim Kardashian, not Rihanna. That is, until he discovered Kim was married to Kanye West. Within a matter of about three hours, he quickly moved from Kim to Rihanna and even offered to take her out on a date. He also playfully claimed Rihanna was "considering" his offer.
July 2014: Rihanna 'Likes' One of Embiid’s Tweets About Taking Her Out on a Date
Rihanna didn’t have much of a reaction to Embiid’s initial tweets about taking her on a date. But he was persistent and suggested he was out to eat with her a few nights later. She wasn’t actually there, but she did take the time to "like" his tweet. She also followed him on Twitter a short time later.
August 2014: Embiid Speaks on What His First Date With Rihanna Would Be Like
During an interview with Complex News about two weeks after his initial tweets about Rihanna, Embiid told us how things would go if Rihanna agreed to a date with him. He didn’t go into great detail, but he did mention he was only interested in becoming friends with Rih-Rih and not dating her exclusively.
"Get to know her. Get some good food and then hang out a little bit," Embiid said. "And then say goodbye to each other. Keep it cool. We friends and anytime we can see each other, yeah, we can see each other. But we just friends. I’m just focused on basketball."
August 2014: Embiid Reveals Rihanna Won't Date Him Until He Becomes an All-Star
While Embiid didn’t mention Rihanna by name in his tweet, he let it be known that he probably wasn’t going to score a date with her until he made an All-Star team.
December 2014: Embiid Celebrates 76ers’ First Win of 2014-15 NBA Season With Rihanna Memes
It took the 76ers more than a month to earn their first win of the 2014-15 NBA season. Embiid celebrated by posting a couple poorly-Photoshopped Rihanna memes on Twitter. But hey, it’s the thought that counts, right?
February 2015: Embiid Wishes Rihanna Happy Birthday
Although he wasn’t named an NBA All-Star in 2015—and thus didn’t earn a date with Rihanna—Embiid still took some time out of his day to wish her a happy birthday while using the same poorly-Photoshopped meme he had used back in December 2014. He also promised to take her on a date once he made his way back to Los Angeles.
March 2015: Embiid Responds to Rumors About Rihanna Dating Leonardo DiCaprio
Remember when everyone was speculating about the possibility of Rihanna dating Leonardo DiCaprio? Most people couldn’t believe it, but Embiid said he wasn’t worried about the rumors. He even went as far as to say that he was the one dating Rihanna.
"I don’t think they’re dating," Embiid said, "because I’m talking to her. You know, we been going on dates…So I don’t think they’re dating. She wants me, and she knows it."
May 2015: Embiid Tweets About How Great It Was to See Rihanna
It’s still unclear if Embiid, like, actually saw Rihanna the night before he sent out this tweet or if he just saw her from a distance. But it seems as though Embiid and Rihanna actually had a face-to-face meeting at some point in 2015. He talked about it later during an ESPN SportsCenter interview in 2016.
"It went well," Embiid said. "I actually met her for the first time. We talked and obviously, she knew me, and I was pretty excited about it. We had a conversation. We kind of talked about my Twitter and it was fun. She thought I was funny."
June 2016: Embiid Shares a Photo of Him Talking About Rihanna With a Teammate
Embiid posted a photo of him talking to his 76ers teammate Ben Simmons during the summer of 2016. He included the hashtag #WeWereTalkingAboutRihanna. And during an ESPN SportsCenter interview later in the year, he said he really was talking about Rihanna when the picture was taken.
"We kind of did talk about Rihanna in that picture," he said. "That’s what makes me smile...Rihanna’s been a girl that kind of made me smile."
December 2016: Embiid Asks Fans to Help Him Score a Date With Rihanna
In an attempt to convince fans to vote for him to take a trip to the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, Embiid reminded everyone a date with Rihanna was on the line. He included the #NBAVote hashtag in his tweet to cleverly rack up more than 50,000 All-Star votes.
March 2017: Embiid Continues Shooting His Shot at Rihanna
While Embiid didn’t end up making the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, he didn’t let it stop him from pledging his allegiance to Rihanna. TMZ Sports caught up with him a few weeks after All-Star Weekend, and he admitted he was still chasing after Rih-Rih.
"Hey, Rihanna, I love you," he said. "I love you, Rihanna. Call on me, man. Hit me up. I love you."
May 2017: Embiid Asks Kelly Rowland to Help Him Land a Date With Rihanna
When Rihanna still hadn’t agreed to a date with him by the time May 2017 rolled around, Embiid decided to bring in the reinforcements. While appearing at an ESPN event hosted by SportsCenter anchors Jemele Hill and Michael Smith, Embiid made a pitch to Kelly Rowland and asked her to help him out.
"Look at myself," he told Rowland, while listing the reasons Rihanna should date him. "I’m 7'2". I’m good looking. Women usually love my accent because I’m from Cameroon in Africa. And I’m pretty intelligent, too. And I’m funny. I love pretty women. I feel good about myself."
In a subsequent SportsCenter appearance, Embiid admitted the pitch didn’t get him anywhere. He said Rowland was "supposed to put in a word for me." But he said he hadn’t heard back anything from her or Rihanna.
January 2018: Embiid Appears to End Any Chance of Dating Rihanna by Curving Her
After all this time, you would think Embiid would use his 2018 NBA All-Star selection to finally land a date with Rihanna. But while speaking about his selection, he said he was over Rihanna and no longer interested in dating her. We’ll just have to wait and see if it ends here or if there’s more to the ongoing Embiid/Rihanna saga.