While meeting with the Philadelphia media via a Zoom conference call, Joel Embiid expressed some serious reservations surrounding the NBA’s scheduled Orlando restart. Primarily focusing on just general health and safety concerns, the 3x All-Star center didn’t mince his words:
“I hated the idea. I feel like with everything that’s been going on, it’s unfortunate with what’s going on…all I wanna do is stay safe and stay healthy, keep the people around me safe.”
Despite his understandable concerns, Embiid eventually came to the decision that he needed to be in Orlando for his teammates and the city of Philadelphia:
“I’m going to do my job. I’m not going to let the city down. I’m going to represent my city, my family, my teammates – that’s what I’ve always done..”
Embiid also clarified that personally he wouldn’t have any problems sitting in his hotel room playing FIFA all day long. He was more concerned about other NBA players potentially acting too relaxed on the rules in place, specifically when it came to social distancing. Fellow Sixer teammates Alec Burks, Shake Milton, and Josh Richardson have all also expressed concern over the league’s restart.
Despite everyone’s concern, each member of the 76ers (with the exception of Zhaire Smith due to his knee injury) will be joining the team down in Orlando. Brett Brown will have a full, healthy roster to work with, leaving little room for excuses.
Embiid touched on a few other topics during his time with the media, highlighting the importance that he comes out aggressive and assertive to start the *season*. There were moments during the year where Embiid publicly expressed frustration over not receiving the ball enough, which many have blamed on the team’s inability to fit Al Horford into the starting lineup.
Joel briefly spoke on that dilemma as well, citing that if he and Horford are to work as a partnership, that they need to be surrounded by individuals willing to shoot. The trio of Embiid, Horford, and Ben Simmons has been one of the team’s worst this year, despite Simmons playing at an exceptionally high level.
A lot has been said recently regarding Embiid’s health and body weight, and Joel was quick to write that off. The Philly big man seems 100% confident in the shape that he will be entering Orlando in. This is obviously something for Sixers fans to be excited about, seeing as Joel’s health has been one of his biggest limiting factors during his career.
Ultimately, each athlete who is choosing to head down to Orlando is taking on inherent risk. Despite all the precautions that the NBA is taking to prevent the spread of disease in the “bubble”, all it takes is one mistake and an entire team could go down with the virus. It’s good to hear that Embiid thought long and hard about his health, and promising to know that he intends to stay locked up in his room playing video games.
*Quotes pulled from Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck), Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters), and Kevin McCormick (@KevinMcC973)*
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports