Joel Embiid speaks on knee injury, MVP race, and more in ESPN’s Cover Story
The entire city of Philadelphia went into shock back in March when Joel Embiid took an ugly fall on his leg during the Sixers game against the Washington Wizards. Luckily, it looked worse than it was and has since made a full recovery. Earlier today, Embiid sat down with ESPN to discuss the injury and the Sixers’ ongoing title pursuit.
After the fall, 76ers fans weren’t the only ones who were panicking and thought everything worked for this season had been gone. Embiid often takes exaggerated falls to help soften the blow on his knees or legs, but this one time, things didn’t go to plan.
“I always just fall because I don’t want to land awkwardly and put too much weight on my lower body. That’s why a lot of injuries don’t happen. As soon as I fell, the first thing that I’m thinking is: ‘My season is over,'” Embiid recalls. “‘There’s no championship. There’s no more MVP. There’s no more Defensive Player of the Year.'”
Alongside Sixers fans and Joel, others in the organization thought it could be worse than initially thought. Head coach Doc Rivers initially believed it to be an ACL injury based on ones he had suffered in the past. Luckily fate was on Joel’s side that day, and the injury was just a bone bruise and nothing more. Despite that, there have been long-lasting effects, including likely losing the MVP race to Nikola Jokic.
“If the MVP wasn’t supposed to be mine this year, I guess maybe it is not. But maybe that’s what keeps me healthy to make sure I’m ready for the playoffs.”
Despite his high hopes for the MVP, it is inspiring to see Joel turn his attention to what matters most, the Larry O’Brien Trophy. To start this season, Doc Rivers didn’t know what to expect with Embiid but knew he was getting a lot of talent. Early on this season, Joel told Doc that he never had a practice where he ran for three hours before. Doc also sat down with Joel and made it very clear what he wanted from the star center.
“He told me that I needed to be a leader. If I came back in shape, it also meant to my teammates, “It’s time to go. Joel is ready. He came back. He’s in great shape, that means you guys have no excuse to not be in shape.”
Back when Embiid was first getting started in the league, he sat down and recorded himself saying his goals for his future career. Since the recording, Joel has watched it numerous times and has used it as motivation.
“I want to be so successful in this business,” the young Embiid says in the clip. “It’s going to take a lot of work, and I’m willing to put it in. But I want to be, when people hear my name, I want to be mentioned as one of the greatest. That’s my goal. And obviously being a Hall of Famer. But you’ve got to take step by step, one day at a time. But it’s just about being one of the greats, that’s what I want to be.”
The 76ers are back in action tonight against the Miami Heat. With a win tonight the Sixers can clinch the first seed in the Eastern Conference. Currently, Embiid is questionable with a non-COVID illness.
Mandatory Credit: USA Today