We’re down on the Sixers after Joel Embiid underwent surgery to take care of a displaced flap in his injured left knee. The reigning MVP was on fire, having another incredible season and coming off a career-high 70 points against San Antonio just last month.

Fast forward to February and the Sixers have lost six of seven, Embiid is going to be re-evaluated in four weeks, and they’ve dropped to 5th in the Eastern Conference, falling behind the red-hot Cavs and Knicks.

All you can really do is laugh, or cry, so in lieu of analyzing a team that more resembles the Process era right now, we decided to rank the 10 most ridiculous Sixers injuries and ailments of the last 10 years. Andrew Bynum’s bowling injury was in 2012, so that falls outside the scope of this article. Otherwise it would have been a prime candidate for the top spot.


10. “gastroenteritis”

I put gastroenteritis in quotes, because we were never totally sure if the players actually needed Pepto Bismol, or if the Sixers just used this as a generic catch-all descriptor. For instance, if two guys were part of a trade that couldn’t be officially announced -VOILA! They magically come down with gastroenteritis. Unless you’re Joel Embiid in 2019, and you really were on the toilet:

A quick Twitter search reveals that the following players have been listed as at least QUESTIONABLE with gastroenteritis since 2017:

Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Trey Burke, Dario Saric, James Ennis, basically everyone on the 2018 team

9. Jones fracture #2

Zhaire Smith is best known as the guy the Sixers ended up with after trading Mikal Bridges, but people may not remember he suffered a broken foot while in Las Vegas during a developmental camp. He had surgery in August of 2018 and ended up playing just six games during his rookie year (more on that later).

What flies under the radar, perhaps, is that Landry Shamet and Shake Milton, also drafted by the Sixers in 2018, were injured in the preseason as well. Shamet had an ankle issue and Shake hurt his back. The Sixers went 3 for 3 in rookie injuries that summer.

8. Jones fracture #1

But wait, there’s more!

The Jones fracture is the same injury Ben Simmons suffered, which caused him to miss his entire rookie season. This one happened during a training camp scrimmage in which he rolled his ankle and subsequently had X-rays and an MRI.

If you’re keeping track, that’s two Jones fractures for two first round draft picks within two years. An impeccable track record!

7. displaced flap of the meniscus

We’re in a little bit of a TBD situation here with the displaced flap, because it’s the current injury and we don’t know how long Joel Embiid is going to be out. It could be 6-8 weeks, and then he’s ready to go for the playoffs. Or, it would keep him out the rest of the year and totally flush 2024 down the toilet. It could go either way!

For now, we list it at #7.

6. broken face #2

Admittedly, it’s hard to choose which Embiid facial fracture was worse. We’re gonna go with broken face #2 first, the Pascal Siakam incident in Toronto, because an opponent caused the injury making a basketball move to the rack… or at least that’s what most people seemed to think. There was a relatively large portion of people who thought it was intentional or dirty from Embiid’s Cameroonian countryman, but the more ridiculous thing was Doc Rivers having Embiid in the game with less than four minutes remaining while the Sixers were up 29. Sure, it was the playoffs, and not some throwaway regular season game, but Doc took a lot of criticism for that.

5. the navicular bone

Every Sixers fan should be triggered when hearing the word “navicular,” because it’s the injury that kept Joel Embiid out for two seasons. Ultimately, we put it on the middle of the list because once Embiid finally recovered, and was cleared to play, he went on to become an All Star and MVP. If we knew that back then, the agonizing wait to see him actually perform would have been much more tolerable.

4. broken face #1

This one is Markelle Fultz running into Joel, who had bobbled an entry pass, screwing up the timing of a DHO.

It resulted in Embiid missing the first two games of the 2018 Miami series, and he had to wear a mask upon his return. The reason this one is ranked higher than the other broken face is because a teammate was doing the damage. It’s more ridiculous. Mind you, this was smack in the middle of the Sixers’ 16-game winning streak, which they took into the playoffs before running into Boston.

3. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, or whatever we’re calling it

My first day covering the Sixers was when Fultz forgot how to shoot free throws. We packed the gym and I asked Brett Brown if we were blowing the issue out of proportion. He said something to the effect of “I think so,” and then we all know how it went from there.

I’ve purged most of this from memory, but remember when Markelle’s camp was calling it something completely different? Scapular dyskinesis? An imbalance? That’s what Bryan Colangelo said in March of 2018:

“It was diagnosed as a scapular imbalance by a well-known expert in Kentucky and the cause is unknown at this stage. We don’t know where it started, when it started, but it was sometime from the time we saw him in summer league – when everyone saw that he did not have a shoulder problem and there was no indication there was a problem with his shot – to something that very quickly rose to awareness in late September and early October as we started the season. Once it was determined that he really was not able to function, we dove deeper to determine whether or not there was something going on. Even though an MRI showed that there was no structural concerns, there was a scapular imbalance, as determined by the doctor in Kentucky. It literally was just a breakdown of muscle function. We don’t know enough about the injury. It’s very uncommon in basketball. It’s very complicated and complex, and that’s why there’s been so much unknown here.”

This led to the theory that Fultz injured himself riding a BMX bike, or whatever was going around at the time.

2. almost killed by food allergies

Zhaire Smith’s Jones fracture ended up being the lesser of the obstacles that ultimately derailed his Sixers career.

After the bone break, he ended up in the hospital with a feeding tube because of food allergies. Alex Schultz at GQ:

In August 2018, Zhaire’s fortune changed. First, he broke his foot. A month later, still recuperating, Zhaire ate some chicken at the Sixers’ team practice facility that made his lips tingle. That’s usually a sign of a minor allergic reaction, as opposed to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction that requires immediate medical attention. Since anaphylaxis typically occurs within a matter of minutes and has obvious symptoms—a severe rash, or causing a person’s airways to narrow, leading to difficulty breathing—Zhaire figured he was in the clear. He drove home, thoroughly brushed his teeth, took some Benadryl, and hopped in the shower. That’s when everything went to hell.

It’s an incredible story. Worth a read if you haven’t dived into the allergy thing before, or don’t recall all of it. He lost 40 pounds and could barely do any physical activity. Eventually, the Sixers sent him to Detroit in the Tony Bradley deal.

1. allegedly hit by a car

Kelly Oubre comes in at #1. A Sixer who had to miss some games because he said he was the victim of a hit and run. Police later noted that they did not have hard evidence, which resulted in a lot of batshit crazy stories being passed around. He was “beat up by a pimp” was my favorite one. The conspiracy theories that hit my DMs make QAnon look like child’s play.

Regardless, the story died down and Oubre came back much sooner than anybody had initially expected.


honorable mentions: Ben Simmons back injury that kept him out of the bubble, Ben Simmons mental health leave, various Embiid knee injuries that we’ve forgotten about, James Harden’s hamstring, 80% of the current starting five dealing with something