Despite the Philadelphia 76ers’ best efforts, there remains no foolproof way to take a shortcut to NBA supremacy (unless you assemble your own dream team in Miami).
The Sixers, and general manager Sam Hinkie in particular, have been on a well-documented quest over the past three years to create an on-court product that purposely performed poorly enough to yield a series of top prospects that would, in theory, turn Philadelphia into a contender for the first time since the Eric Snow and Allen Iverson era.
Alas, there’s been a few kinks in the plan. First, Hinkie traded his 2013 lottery pick, Michael Carter-Williams, to the Milwaukee Bucks last year against the will of his team’s head coach, Brett Bowen. Now, it appears as though matters surrounding oft-injured second year center Joel Embiid just got weird.
The fact that Embiid, the third overall pick of the 2014 draft, has yet to suit up for an NBA game due to a foot injury is bad enough. The recent revelation that Embiid may miss the entire 2015-16 season as well following a re-injury of said foot was an unwelcomed punch in the gut (not that punches in the gut are ever welcomed).
But now, there’s this. Sports Illustrated’s Brian Geltzeller recently pieced together a report that suggests Embiid’s re-injury is merely the culmination of a season’s worth of attitude issues, insubordination, lax rehabilitation, and an apparent fixation on one notable non-alcoholic beverage:
Embiid’s lax approach to his rehab and the circumstances surrounding the second foot surgery he needed this past summer – which appears like it will cost him the entire 2015-16 season – has caused the organization much anxiety. The simple task of getting Embiid to consistently wear his walking boot was a challenge for the franchise, and multiple sources suggested that some people in Philadelphia’s front office wonder whether a second surgery would have been necessary if Embiid had worn the boot as much as he was told to.
Geltzeller’s report went on to reference Embiid’s desire to attend his team’s summer league trip in Las Vegas as a means of extended party time:
Embiid was determined to go to Vegas to party for the balance of the 10 days of summer league. While Embiid was in Vegas, he was mandated to wear the walking boot in advance of the second surgery, but Embiid not only refused to wear the boot, but he carried himself as if nothing was wrong with the foot, shooting jumpers and even occasionally dunking. These actions have given rise to the theory that Embiid actually re-broke his foot, rather than the initial injury not healing properly. It also led to Embiid having the surgery a month later than the club originally had hoped.
And of course, there’s Embiid’s alleged dietary woes:
This type of disregard for instruction also extends to Embiid’s dietary habits. Per a source, the Sixers’ training staff was so concerned about what he was eating, they stocked the refrigerator in his downtown hotel residence each week with healthy food. When a staffer went to restock the fridge each week, most everything was uneaten and unopened, and they were throwing out the fruits and vegetables every week. When the team subsequently asked to see Embiid’s room service bill, they found that most days he was ordering junk food along with his signature beverage, a pitcher of Shirley Temples. Embiid also was frequently seen feasting on chicken fingers and hot dogs at and after games.
After drafting center Jahlil Okafor in June, creating a potent pairing with fellow big man Nerlens Noel, it would appear as though the 76ers may already have a contingency plan in place if Emiid doesn’t pan out. In the meantime, the 21-year-old Embiid certainly appears to have his work cut out for him.
(H/T to Joe Wolfond at The Score)