The Philadelphia 76ers have confirmed that center Joel Embiid has a partially torn meniscus in his left knee.
Embiid Injury Confirmed as Partially Torn Meniscus
The star rookie suffered the injury on January 20th during a game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Embiid left that contest in the third quarter after a scary off-balance landing following a dunk. The injury, previously reported as just a knee contusion, has caused Embiid to miss the Sixers’ last nine games, and 12 of the team’s last 13 contests.
Tear “Low-Grade” – Surgery Not Expected
According to Philadelphia 76ers reporter Derek Bodner, Embiid’s tear is low-grade and not expected to require surgical intervention. Bodner, who first reported the tear, stated that neither the knee contusion nor the meniscus tear is expected to be a long-term concern, and that Embiid is considered day-to-day.
Embiid has yet to confirm the extent of his injury himself, but he did tell reporters on Saturday that he is “not healthy” and “not able to play right now.” Expect Embiid to remain out at least through the All-Star break.
Notably, Embiid’s injury did not prevent him from dancing shirtless on stage during a Meek Mill concert on Friday night. The Sixers’ young star appeared on stage during the song “Wicked,” causing fans to go into a wild frenzy.
Impact of Embiid’s Absence
Embiid, a top contender for Rookie of the Year honors, has been impressive this season, averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game, despite playing relatively limited minutes (25.4 per game). Understandably, the Sixers have struggled without their imposing big man, losing six of their last nine games. The Sixers are currently 20-34, 13th in the Eastern Conference. The team was able to pull out a win on Saturday, however, snapping the Miami Heat’s 13-game winning streak.
Embiid’s Injury History a Concern
Dealing with injuries is nothing new to the third overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, but Embiid’s recent history is cause for concern.
In 2014, Embiid missed the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments due to a stress fracture in his back. Later that year, Embiid suffered a stress fracture to the navicular bone in his right foot. The break required surgery to repair, causing Embiid to miss the entire 2014-15 NBA season. Just over a year later, Embiid re-broke the same bone, causing him to undergo additional surgery and miss the 2015-16 season.
Whether Embiid’s body is built to endure a long NBA career is really questionable. Cartilage tears of any kind are cause for serious concern, and recurring stress fractures can be career ending, particularly for big men. In fact, former Houston Rockets center Yao Ming had his career cut short by consecutive stress fractures to his navicular bone, the same ailment that has sidelined Embiid for two seasons already.