By Terrance Turner
May 10, 2022
Thing are going from bad to worse for Joel Embiid.
The Philadelphia 76ers center suffered a major injury last month that knocked him out of contention for days. He was struck in the head by Raptors forward Pascal Siakam late in the fourth quarter of Philly’s Game 6 victory over Toronto. Siakam inadvertently elbowed Embiid, causing his injury.
Embiid suffered a concussion (a mild brain injury) and a right orbital fracture. (An orbital fracture occurs when one or more of the bones around the eyeball break, often caused by a hard blow to the face, according to Temple University Health.) He missed two games, but the star center cleared concussion protocol on Friday and participated in the team’s shootaround, according to The Athletic. He returned to play for Game 3.
But tonight, in Game 5, his injury was re-aggravated. In the second quarter, with 6:19 to go, Miami Heat reserve center Dewayne Dedmon went up for a rebound and accidentaly knoced the ball into Embiid’s face. Embiid fell to the ground and lay facedown on the court. When he rolled over, Embiid held his hands over his face, sobbing.
The Philadelphia 76ers were blown out by the Miami Heat, 120-85. Embiid scored only 17 points and is now questionable for Game 6. But instead of focus on Embiid’s injuries, NBA analysts chose to focus on the MVP race. (On Monday, Embiid lost the NBA MVP award to Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic. Many expected Embiid to win.)
Commenator Stephen A. Smith criticized the group for one of the most awful performances I’ve seen the @sixers put forth in a long time,” adding, “I guess they wanted another overnight stay in Miami […] Or was it that @JoelEmbiid was pissed over not getting league MVP Honors. Hey! He got my vote. But it wasn’t like it went to some scrub, “Smith tweeted. “You’ve just got to have more fight than what we saw tonight.”
Former player Charles Barkley was even worse. “Joel Embiid is so distracted, in my opinion, by this MVP thing. He’s not there tonight. He’s got 6 points but he’s not being aggressive, he’s throwing the ball away,” Barkley said. “But Ernie, when you are mad about something it can work both ways. And it’s working the wrong way for Joel Embiid tonight. He is so distracted.”
Barkley ignored the fact that Embiid is recovering from a concussion and a right orbital fracture that just got re-aggravated by contact. (Embiid is also playing with a torn ligament in his thumb, per SBNation.) But Barkley didn’t let injuries get in the way of his talking point.
Yahoo! Sports writer Adam Hermann rightly called Barkley out: “When I heard Barkley uttering these words in real time, I thought he was kidding. This is so, so, so stupid. Did Embiid want to win MVP? Sure. It would’ve been a big deal, and it would’ve been cool.
But Embiid has been clear, time and time again, that he cares about one thing during his time in the NBA: he wants to win a title. What’s also clear, to everyone except Chuck, is that Embiid is struggling with the numerous physical ailments he’s playing through. Sure, he might be able to tough it out for a game or two and put on a brave face.
But the guy literally missed the first two games of this series, is regularly lifting his mask during game stoppages, and still can’t grip the basketball properly or get a proper rotation on his shot because HE HAS A TORN LIGAMENT IN HIS THUMB.
Use your brain, Chuck. I’m begging you. Embiid is giving it his all, but the guy has an individual injury list that would make the Week 13 Eagles blush.”