Marcus Hayes: Joel Embiid, injured again, should not play in the Olympics. He should prepare for the next Sixers season.

Marcus Hayes, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Basketball

PHILADELPHIA — Sometimes I wonder if it’s me who's crazy or if it’s everybody else.

Or maybe it’s just Joel Embiid.

On Thursday, the 76ers’ fragile center addressed the press for the first time since his second surgery on his left knee, which was his third knee injury in seven seasons.

He said, morosely, that he was sad his injury truncated what had been a historic campaign not seen since the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, who lately has come to be the only player comparable to Embiid in NBA history.

He said, hopefully, that he could return near the end of the Sixers’ remaining 24 games, so he could test the soundness and resilience of the joint and gauge how much he might help the team in the playoffs, if at all.

He said, gamely, that he was not considering shutting his season down, not because it isn’t the wisest thing to do — unquestionably, it’s wiser to heal for months rather than weeks — but because he loves playing basketball so much.


He then said, insanely, that he still plans to play in the Olympics in Paris this summer.

“If I feel good, I’m playing,” Embiid said. “The plan is to play.”

The plan? What plan? The crazy-pants plan? The spit-in-the-eye-of-fate plan? The plan where Embiid travels to France, falls off the Eiffel Tower and breaks his eyes sockets for a third time?

I wasn’t thrilled that Embiid committed to play in the Olympics before his latest injury. Consider: In 2014, Paul George broke his leg during a Team USA intrasquad scrimmage, and he was a healthy 24-year-old. Embiid will be a patched-up 30-year-old.


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