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Embiid Opens Up, Hopes to Play Back-to-Back, Winning Rookie of the Year

Joel Embiid was supposed to compete in the Rising Stars game, as well as the Skills Challenge (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid was supposed to compete in the Rising Stars game, as well as the Skills Challenge (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Sixers rookie Joel Embiid will be in New Orleans representing the 76ers for the All-Star weekend, but he will not participate in either of the events he was selected for, the Rising Stars game, as well as the Skills Challenge, his injured knee will prevent him from participating.

However in an interview with ESPN Radio’s Meet the All-Star’s with Marc Kestecher and Marc Stein, Embiid revealed that his early success has surprised even him and that he wanted to get a taste and get acclimated with what all-star weekend feels like, hoping he would be back in the game sometime in the future.

“I thought I would come in show some flashes, show what I could do in the future,” Embiid admitted on the podcast which will air on Saturday. “So yes, I surprised myself.

As far as his injured knee, Embiid told ESPN Radio: “Right now, I’m not worried, it’s a bone bruise. They talked about a meniscus, but I’m being treated for a bone bruise.  The goal is for me to be asystematic and when that happens, i’ll be back on the court.”

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Embiid missed his first two years in the league with an injured foot, and now this injury has prevented him from playing in 12 of the last 13 games for the Sixers.  He recently was up on stage dancing at a Meek Mill concert, but its one of the charms about Embiid, he has been able to keep his spirits up throughout all the turmoil he has gone though.

Not only did Embiid miss two-and-a-half years of playing basketball, he also lost his brother, and it almost caused him to walk away from the game he has now dominates on a nightly basis.

“I was in such a bad place, I wanted to quit basketball,” Embiid told ESPN Radio.  “I just wanted to go back home and just leave everything behind.  But coming into this season, one thing I told myself was to just come and have fun. All the dark days I had then, now is my time to have fun.”

Embiid said he wanted to quit, after his first surgery he wasn’t feeling well, his foot would be sore from walking. However, after the second surgery the foot began to feel better and the pain went away and he decided to push himself.

Fast-forward to January, Embiid has helped lead the Sixers to a 10-5 record in the month, winning 10-of-13 games at one point. The “Process”, a moniker Embiid has embraced says it’s great to see the Philly fans supporting the team.

“The atmosphere at every game is amazing,” Embiid says.

He would be the run-away winner of the NBA rookie of the year award, averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 blocks in just 25.4 minutes per game this season.  The issue is he has played in only 31 games this season, but its something he wants to win and would validate all the time he missed to get here.

“It would be great,” Embiid admitted. “I was in a bad place, but coming back and having a chance to be the rookie of the year will be for all the sacrifices that i’ve made. I’m hopeful to be back after the all-star break.”

ESPN’s Marc Stein, who helped conduct the interview, brought up the fact the Patrick Ewing won the rookie of the year award playing in just 50 games a rookie, the Sixers have just 26 games remaining, but Embiid says he is hopeful he can get to at least 50 games played this season.

He would need to play in 19 of the Sixers remaining 26 to make that happen, that number includes five back-to-back situations.

“I wouldn’t want to come into next season without having seeing what it’s like playing back-to-backs,” Embiid said. “Hopefully at some point this season I start playing back-to-backs.”

Back in January Embiid brought up the word playoffs, he wants to change the culture, and believes if the team didn’t start the season so slow, they would likely be in a playoff spot right now.

“Once we are healthy, we have a chance to be really, really good.”

 

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