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Joel Embiid considered quitting NBA before returning from injury

joel embiid

When rookies get drafted in the NBA, especially the ones taken early in first round, it marks the start of their careers where they can immediately make an impact, mostly because they’ll play for lottery teams and will receive a lot of playing time.

But back in 2014, the Philadelphia 76ers selected Joel Embiid with the third overall selection but was forced to sit out his first two years.

The Kansas product suffered a pair of foot injuries in consecutive years and had to undergo a couple of surgeries to repair it. It was a long and painful road to recovery for the 7-foot center and all he could do was work on his strength and conditioning while watching his team win a combined 28 games in two seasons.

Embiid admitted that he had thoughts of giving up basketball during that time. The frustration he felt was an all-time high after not being able to play, and he had just lost his brother, Arthur, a few months prior. He had almost reached rock bottom.

Per Lee Jenkins of SI.com:

“Last October, the day before the first anniversary of Arthur’s death, The Cauldron ran a distressing story about Embiid’s arduous rehab. Ensuing headlines focused on his exaggerated affection for Shirley Temples. You’d have thought he was chugging Moonshine laced with grenadine. Upset by both timing and content, Embiid considered quitting the NBA and returning to Cameroon, where he could honor his brother in peace. Maybe he’d go back to volleyball, his first chosen sport. His father had warned him about the dangers of hoops.”

“I wanted to get away from all this drama,” Embiid recalls, “and stay away.” He had been in America for four years and lived in four cities, a hardwood nomad, always moving alone. “I never had a girlfriend before, but back then I had some type of girlfriend.” Embiid says. “One day I told her my whole story.”

The 22-year-old then discovered social media, Twitter in particular, and used it as a tool to express himself more. He has been known ever since for his comedic and playful antics and is now considered one of the most popular athletes on that platform. By having fun with it, his journey back to playing became more bearable.

And then the big moment arrived as he was finally cleared to resume basketball activities early last summer. He looked forward to training camp to show his teammates and coaching staff that he is ready to finally make his debut in the preseason. He did not disappoint and showed everyone that he is definitely worth the wait.

With his impressive post moves and improved ball-handling skills, it will not be a surprise if Embiid will turn into a great player someday. He has shown a lot of resilience in the past and his work ethic is second to none. He will look to contribute to his team starting this year and help bring a winning culture back to the their storied franchise.

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