CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid shot down any theories that he's healthy and being held out to slow the Sixers' recent success.
“I'm not healthy,” Embiid said. “Got to take care of my knee, this bone bruise. It's been on and off. Work out and then swells up a little but and then got to slow it down. Like I said, it's all about patience. But no, I'm not healthy … I'm not able to play right now.”
Embiid will miss his ninth straight game because of a left knee contusion Saturday against the Heat (see game notes). He went through shootaround and scripting that morning. There is no date set for his return.
“I would say today's the best day I felt in the past two weeks,” he said, adding, “I'm going to see how it reacts tomorrow.”
Embiid and the Sixers are proceeding with caution. It is an approach Embiid learned to appreciate after missing two seasons with foot injuries.
“These people care about me,” Embiid said of the Sixers. “They're never going to push me. I missed two years and we had a lot of patience. It's not the time to lose that patience.”
Embiid has not decided if he will participate in the upcoming All-Star Weekend festivities. He was selected to the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge and the Skills Challenge.
“We're going to see,” Embiid said. “Today's the first I felt pretty well. We're going to see how next week goes. If I can play a game, I'm going to play. If I can't, I'm not going to do anything.”
Embiid has been keeping a positive mindset during this injury. He got down on himself when he was sidelined for two years and changed his mentality going into his rookie season.
That lighthearted outlook was on display Friday night when he appeared on stage at a Meek Mill concert at the Wells Fargo Center (see story). There was a mixed reaction on social media — some were glad to see the big man in front of the crowd and others questioning why he was out there while injured. He understood both viewpoints.
“Meek invited me to the stage. I had fun. That's what I'm about, just enjoy life. But I don't think it was a good and I don't think it was a bad decision. I just thought about having fun,” Embiid said, also noting, “I saw people said I'm not playing and they expect me not to do that type of stuff. But I mean, I'm 22 years old. I'm having fun. That's what I've been doing the whole year and I'm going to keep on doing that.”
Embiid doesn’t let negative feedback get to him. In fact, he thrives on it. When asked if he cares what people think about him, he replied candidly.
“Honestly I don't because I like reading stuff,” he said. “I like seeing when people say bad stuff about me. Especially as far as basketball because the next game it makes me want to go on the court and do what they said I couldn't do just prove them that 'Yeah, I can do it.' That's my mindset.”
That mentality has been working so far. Embiid's averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks this season while under a 28-minute restriction.