Sixers fans have had their fill of Joel Embiid injury news.
From his navicular bone to his torn meniscus to his facial fracture to more recently the tendinitis in his left knee that’s kept him out for five games since the All-Star break.
Embiid said Saturday before his team took on the Warriors that he feels good and expects to be back soon.
He was asked in several roundabout ways when he’d return. When pressed to the point where he was asked if he’d be back before the end of the regular season, he laughed and gave his timetable.
“Yes. I’ll be back," he said. "I expect to be back by next week.”
Mixed between all the injury issues has been sheer brilliance at times for Embiid. His numbers this season are matched by only a handful of Hall of Famers.
News of his latest ailment caused the fan base to worry, but Embiid insists that he’s fine. He was also quick to shoot down any idea of the dreaded minutes restrictions.
“We’re all past that,” Embiid said. “Everybody’s got to stop worrying about injuries. That’s in the past. It’s behind me. We’ve been through it. I’ve been healthy for the past two years — except the face stuff, but it was a freak injury. I’m fine. There has never been any mention of minute restrictions or load management. It’s just about playing the game and see how I feel.”
The timing of Embiid sitting has been curious. The optics aren't great with Embiid playing in the All-Star Game, but missing the first five games out of the break.
Embiid was also quick to kill any notion that playing in the All-Star Game had any effect, saying that the tendinitis didn’t really become truly bothersome until after the game.
Going into every game I was good,” Embiid said. “All-Star Game I was good. That has nothing to do with playing in the All-Star Game. Nothing was bothering me. Right after that I felt like with us being in a great position to make the playoffs, at the end of the day, it’s all about making sure that I’m good for the rest of my career and these playoffs.
Embiid has certainly come a long way in his young career. It was over two years ago that he inexplicably played through the aforementioned meniscus tear. When he was on minutes restrictions, he wasn’t happy. Even this season, when Brett Brown forced him to rest for a game in Detroit, Embiid was not thrilled.
Now, his primary focus is making sure he’s available for his team in the postseason — and beyond.
“It’s all about long-term preservation, making sure I’m ready not just for the playoffs but also for the next 15 years,” Embiid said. “Knowing the team, what we’ve been through and knowing me, knowing that I like to push on everything, I like to play through anything, we just felt like it's better to preserve it.”
"None of you in this room could understand the growth that he's made,” Brown said. "That journey has produced a far more mature and responsible person."
The Sixers have made no secrets about their championship aspirations all season. Acquiring Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris was GM Elton Brand signaling to Embiid and company that their time is now.
Embiid has heard that message and he’s getting his body right for what he hopes is a long playoff run.
“We’ve got a great opportunity here,” Embiid said. “The window is open. I feel it’s our time and we've just got to work together and set aside personal goals or individual goals or whatever else is going on, to be able to win a championship.”
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