Joel Embiid really wants to rejoin the Philadelphia 76ers’ rotation. We always knew that, and it became infinitely more clear following the team’s Game 2 loss to the Miami Heat, when he posted some not-suitable-for-work sentiments on his Instagram. But if you think him applying passive-aggressive pressure to the Sixers will get them to rush, ahem, the process, think again.
Embiid has already been ruled out for Game 3 against the Heat. Head coach Brett Brown hasn’t tipped the organization’s plan beyond that. And that make sense, because Embiid’s left orbital fracture is a serious injury. According to Philly.com’s Keith Pompey, in fact, the big man runs the risk of doing permanent damage to his left eye if he returns to soon:
Following Monday’s Game 2 loss, he went on Instagram to voice his displeasure with not playing. Embiid posted, “[Freaking] sick and tired of being babied.” Then he told ESPN, “I promised the city the playoffs and I’m not on the court, and I may not be on Thursday [for Game 3], either. I wish more than anything that I was out there. I just want the green light to play.”
That’s understandable, but at what cost?
Miami is a physical team. And this is the NBA where throwing elbows is just a part of the game. A shot to the left side of Embiid’s face could do major damage. A source said a forceful blow to the orbital bone could even permanently damage the sight in his left eye.
Look, Embiid probably isn’t mad at the Sixers’ organization, just the situation. But the team is handling this the right way. There’s no point risking permanent injury—or even temporary re-injury—just to get out of the first round or even chase an Eastern Conference Finals appearance.
The Sixers, remember, are ahead of schedule. They aren’t supposed to be contenders now. Ben Simmons is a rookie. Markelle Fultz, too. They have a ton of money invested in Embiid over the next half-decade. It doesn’t matter if he’s begging to play. The Sixers must prioritize their big picture over everything else—especially when their reservations are very clearly aimed at preserving his well-being.