76ers

Joel Embiid says 'everybody's got to stop being scared'

Joel Embiid wants to calm your nerves. 

Yes, he toppled over James Harden and slammed into the ground. Yes, he has a history of injuries. Yes, his health now has a price tag of $146.5 million.

But still …

“Everybody’s got to stop being scared,” Embiid said. “I’m not made of glass. That’s basketball.”

Embiid flew up and over Harden late in the fourth Wednesday as he tried to block a shot. He was called for a critical goaltending, but more deafening than the ref’s whistle was the sound of 280 pounds hitting the court.

“The thud is still in my ears,” Brown said. “But he’s OK.” 

The energy in the Wells Fargo Center came to a halt as Embiid took a moment to get back up. Each of his slips, trips and spills are viewed under a watchful eye given his hobbled past and bright future. 

He missed his first two years because of foot injuries and was held to just 31 games last season with a knee ailment. His last game of the previous season was against the Rockets. 

Now that Embiid has signed a massive five-year contract extension, the concern is understandable.

“I think me and about 20,000 people held their breaths for a little bit,” T.J. McConnell said. 

Embiid is tasked with finding a balance between hustling and staying healthy. It is difficult to scale back his high energy level and even higher competitive fire (see highlights).

“Even though he makes those high-risk plays, his mindset is, ‘I’m not worrying about or thinking about what can possibly come,’” Justin Anderson said. “What do you tell him? Don’t go hard? Don’t make plays like that? He wanted to make a winning play for us. … He’s more durable than a lot of people think.”

Embiid brushed himself off and finished out the game with 21 points, six rebounds and three assists in 25 minutes during a 105-104 loss (see observations). As long as he bounces back unscathed, the Sixers will (take a deep breath and) deal with his aggressive plays.

“I’m at a stage where I’m just so numb to it all, and I mean that,” Brown said. “I can tell you that your heart’s sort of in your sleeve, that’s kind of true. But you just get through it and hope he stands up and moves on.”