Joel Embiid “Hated the Idea” of Going to Orlando, But Says He Won’t Let His Teammates Down

Joel Embiid in 2019
Photo credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Joel Embiid didn’t beat around the bush today.

Speaking on a Zoom call, he gave a rather blunt (and appreciated) assessment of the NBA’s Orlando return, which is scheduled for a little less than four weeks from now, on July 30th.

Embiid was asked if he or the Sixers had any fears about going to Florida amid a spike in COVID-19 cases, prompting this response:

“Yeah, I mean, I hated the idea. I felt like with everything that’s been going on, and it’s unfortunate what’s been going on in the world, obviously people look at it a different way. There might be some other reasons behind everything going on. To me, that part never mattered; all I want is to stay healthy, stay safe, keep the people around me safe. I want to be sure that I can leave for a long time and not have any sort of, I don’t know, consequences for the future.

I’m not a big fan of the idea, but then again I’m going to do my job and won’t let the city down. I’m going to go represent my city, and that’s what I’ve always done. My family and my teammates (too). The mindset doesn’t change. It doesn’t matter, the fact that I don’t like the idea and still don’t believe in it and I don’t think it’s gonna be safe. I know I’m going to do the right things. I don’t ever do anything, I only play video games. I’m always home. I don’t trust those other guys to do the same, but like I said, I gotta do my job.”

That’s the X-factor here, isn’t it? You could be following the rules and taking the virus seriously, but then somebody else is playing fast and loose and puts everybody else in danger.

Said Embiid on that:

“I look at myself and I’ve been doing this for quite a bit now – 5, 6, 7 years. I look at myself and all I do is play video games and stay in my room on the road, or at home, just stay home, play video games, be with my family. Obviously we’re all different; some guys like to go out, some guys like adventure, that’s the way I’m thinking. I know myself and I know I wont put everybody else at risk, but the question is whether everybody else is going to do the same. I don’t think so.”

Embiid was asked straight-up if he thought about skipping the tournament entirely and opting out ala Avery Bradley, Trevor Ariza, and others:

“Opting out, I thought about it, but then again, I would not want to let my teammates down. I play in a city that’s tough and I consider myself as being tough. You can look at the way I play the game, just being physical, getting to free throw line, and I wont give up easily. If the current trend was people getting sick and a lot of people dying and you don’t know what’s gonna happen, you don’t want to be in a situation where you put your life at risk for money. At the end of the day more things matter than basketball. I have my family and myself to look after.

It’s unfortunate, but I want to represent my city, I’ve been here too long and this is my opportunity. I feel like we have a great chance of winning a championship. Still not 100% sure, but that’s what I’m thinking. I want to represent this city and don’t want to let my teammates down.”

Sixers vs. Pacers on August 1st, just 25 days from now.