Joel Embiid: 'I'm not healthy ... I'm not able to play right now'

Joel Embiid: 'I'm not healthy ... I'm not able to play right now'

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. 

JJ Redick believes Sixers needed more team dinners on road last season

JJ Redick believes Sixers needed more team dinners on road last season

Philadelphia 76ers fans are generally excited about the new roster construction heading into the 2019-2020 season but there's no doubt the sharp shooting of JJ Redick will be missed.

Redick took his talents down to the bayou and will suit up for the New Orleans Pelicans this season. JJ joined ESPN NBA insider Zach Lowe on his podcast this week to talk about his new opportunity. They also reflected a bit on his time with the Sixers and the tough loss to the eventual NBA Champion Toronto Raptors in the playoffs after four bounces of a Kawhi Leonard desperation shot.

JJ is open about the fact that the decision to move on to New Orleans was partly financial.

"I never got the sense that [the Sixers] didn't want to bring me back, unfortunately it came down to a little bit of economics," Redick said.

Jimmy Butler's decision to move on to the Miami Heat obviously precipitated that move. Redick speaks highly of Butler regardless of his decision.

"I love Jimmy. I would play with Jimmy again," Redick said. "He is in the upper tier of two-way players and in the upper tier of offensive players in the NBA period."

So Redick has moved on to New Orleans, but it's tough not to think back to what could have been. There was a point in the Toronto series where Redick believed the Sixers were capable of winning the NBA championship last season.

"Joel and I spent some time together after the season and we talked about it. It was Game 4 [against Toronto] for us. We lost that game and I felt like, for most of that game, we had control, not just that game but that series. We had a chance to go up 3-1. That was the opportunity that we missed. You lose that game and it's 2-2 and you've got to win 2 out of 3 against Toronto and that's a tough task."

One other interesting nugget from Redick's time in Philly was his sharing that he believed they didn't do enough team dinners on the road.

"I wish, I've tried, I wish, the team meal on the road is huge. I think it's huge. We didn't do it enough last year in Philly. We tried. It wasn't enough. Some of that, look, nobody wants to be forced to go to dinner. It's got to be real and authentic."

Some other choice quotes from the pod below.

On Ben Simmons getting a jumper.

"Ben works. He worked all of last off season. I witnessed him during the season get his shots up after practice every day. I think he'll be able to shoot at some point. A lot of it is confidence. He can shoot a high enough clip when he's shooting spot shots that it should translate to shooting threes in a game. The video that went viral, looks to me like he's shooting with some confidence there."

Lowe also asked JJ about the dagger shot in Toronto.

"I was on the bench," Redick said. "I sort of had that perfect angle cause as soon as the ball had come in bounds I sort of walked on to the baseline. Not on the court, but onto the baseline so I could get a straight-on view of the action. My memory may be a little jogged but my arms were crossed, I was watching the ball bounce around the rim, and it went in. I'm not sure I had any initial reaction, I think it was just shock. Part of you wants to walk off the floor and punch a wall and the other part of you, if I'm the Raptors, I'd want to dap up the people that I had just played a seven game series against. I stayed on the court and talked to Kyle, Marc, Kawhi, Danny and those guys. Told them I hope they win a championship and walked off. Then you get back to the locker room and you see the emotion, I was obviously feeling emotional, then Joel started crying. Those are the sorts of moments that you don't forget. As much as you don't forget the shot, the aftermath of moments like that, you just don't forget. There's just a lot of raw emotion."

You can listen to JJ's entire conversation with Zach Lowe right here.

Joel Embiid lost weight ... but not his sense of humor

Joel Embiid lost weight ... but not his sense of humor

After a disappointing postseason, Joel Embiid faced much scrutiny. He dealt with knee tendinitis and illnesses which didn’t allow him to be at his best. It also seemed to suck the joy out of the normally charismatic center.

He took that Game 7 quadruple doink hard, visibly crying on the floor and making sure to call out his detractors during exit interviews.

And it appears he’s taking his health more seriously. The All-Star big man claims to have lost 25 pounds in a recent video where he took on the Paqui One Chip Challenge. While it’s encouraging to hear that Embiid has been working on his fitness this offseason, it’s also good to see he still has his typical sense of humor. 

During the video, he eats a chip dipped in black seasoning that’s made with Carolina Reaper Pepper, which is “certified by the Guinness World Records as the world’s hottest chili pepper.” Embiid eats the chip and tries to downplay the intensity of the heat, repeating over and over again “I’m African” and that he “doesn’t feel anything” – while he’s wilting on the floor in agony and chugging milk.

It was Embiid being himself. 

And It was good to see him covered in sweat and crying for a different reason.

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