Joel Embiid could be the perfect athlete if it wasn’t for the number 200.
The 76ers center possesses superstar potential, an extraordinarily likable personality and reckless play that embodies the city he plays for. On top of that, everyone loves a great story and recovering from two foot surgeries to possibly become an all-time great player is just that.
The only issue – and it’s a major problem – is the number 200, which is how many games Embiid has missed the past four basketball seasons, dating back to his freshman year at Kansas.
That glaring number will become 220 by the time the Sixers head to summer break compared to the 59 he played since stepping foot for the first time on Kansas’ floor on November 8, 2013.
“The Process” is brittle and it’s a darn shame.
I can argue with a Hinkie-ite about Sam Hinkie’s irresponsible plan all day. You and I can complain about the deceit displayed by Bryan Colangelo until we are blue in the face. Unfortunately, none of that matters if the cornerstone of the Sixers’ rebuild is as durable as an iPhone screen that constantly cracks when it’s drop it on the ground.
It’s incredibly troubling that the once minor and now more pronounced meniscus tear is Embiid’s fifth injury in four years. The others were the knee contusion, which I consider different from the meniscus tear, two foot surgeries, and his back problem from his Kansas days.
If my math is correct, that’s five injuries to three different body parts the last four basketball seasons.
A lot of the blame falls on the Sixers’ medical staff and maybe Embiid is just growing into his unique body, as some have speculated. But, it doesn’t take a genius to determine these are a lot of injuries in a short period of time.
Denying Embiid the ability to play back-to-backs and keeping him to a minutes restriction clearly didn’t help.
So, three things need to happen.
The world-renowned doctors and medical minds employed by the 76ers need to explain their rationale verbally and stop hiding behind statements with big words.
Bryan Colangelo has to be more transparent and give the paying public up-to-the-minute updates with Embiid and Ben Simmons.
And, unfortunately, you and I need to lower our expectations for “The Process.” It’s not irrational to start believing that Embiid may never be fully healthy for a season to reach his highest potential.
What if the Sixers decide not to compensate him enough come the end of his contract, and he ends up somewhere else and miraculously remains healthy enough?
That would be an incredible waste of time and injustice to the loyal fan who suffered through this extremely long rebuild with the 76ers.
Embiid’s tweets are fun and his personality is infectious, but none of that will hold any significance if he can’t play the majority of nights at nearly 40 minutes a game.
And, before I forget…
-Throughout his select media sessions since the end of the season, most recently at the NFL Combine and on 94 WIP, Eagles de facto general manager Howie Roseman never hesitates to remind us about the franchise quarterback he acquired almost a year ago. Even if the question isn’t about Carson Wentz, Roseman finds a way to include him in the answer. Wentz being on the Eagles is great, but it will mean nothing if Roseman doesn’t acquire weapons around him through free agency and the draft.
-Heading into Thursday night’s game against the Panthers, it has been exactly one month since Flyers captain Claude Giroux scored a goal. Maybe it’s finally time to remove the “C” from Giroux’s sweater and give it to the man with 27 goals … Wayne Simmonds.
-An early prediction for MVP on the Phillies this year is Matt Stairs. I didn’t enter a time machine. I realize it’s not 2008. And even though the Phillies’ batting average and on base percentage numbers in spring training are still really bad, they’ve hit 11 homers in six games heading into Thursday afternoon. The new hitting coach appears to be making an impact on their power immediately. That should lead to a lot of Liberty Bell rings at Citizens Bank Park this summer.