‘I Really Thought I Wasn’t Going To Make It’: Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid On His Bout With COVID-19
PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 27: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Wells Fargo Center on November 27, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Timberwolves defeated the 76ers 121-120 in double overtime. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid is one of the most dominant forces in the NBA. The four-time All Star has battled through injuries his entire career to become a top-ten player in the league. Yet, it was his recent bout with COVID-19 that forced him to miss the Sixers’ last nine games and a sickness that hit him particularly hard. 

“I mean, I really thought I wasn’t going to make it,” said Embiid. “It was that bad. I’m just thankful to be sitting here. I struggled with it but I’m just glad I got over it.”


Embiid returned to the court Saturday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, lighting it up for 42 points on 12-23 shooting to go along with 14 rebounds and four blocks. The Sixers lost the game in double overtime 121-120, dropping them to 2-8 in their last ten games. 

Embiid — who, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, is vaccinated — said he was not expecting to be able to take the court against the Timberwolves. 

“Honestly, I did not think I was going to play tonight after the workout last night,” Embiid said. “Really couldn’t go up and down more than three times. I guess, to me it’s a miracle I even played this many minutes.”

The Sixers have had multiple players test positive for COVID this season, including starting forward Tobias Harris. 

“I mean, he’s not doing great,” coach Doc Rivers said about Embiid in early November. “He’s struggling with it. It’s very similar to Tobias. That’s all I can tell you.”

Harris praised Embiid’s effort in his return to the court. 

“That’s a tough one, coming back from being out for that long of a period of time. He did his thing, he was carrying us all throughout. Just getting to his spots and getting his shot. His conditioning looked good as well. It was good to have him back with the team, and you just saw his presence and what was missing for sure,” Harris said.

Rivers also had nothing but good things to say regarding Embiid’s return, highlighting his conditioning. 

“Listen, we lost, and Joel (Embiid) was phenomenal tonight. But we still lost the game. Joel would take 30 and win if you know what I’m saying. He was great, played a ton of minutes, something you just don’t know from COVID. Give him credit. Clearly, he’s been working out, and he showed us that,” said Rivers.

Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns — who has a checkered history with Embiid — said that he spoke with Embiid, and was “happy he’s doing well.”

“I told Embiid on the court I’m very happy he’s come to the other side of Covid,” Towns said postgame. “We’ve had our thing for awhile, but that’s bigger than basketball. That’s bigger than what we have. I’ve seen it kill people. … I’m very happy he’s doing well.”

Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to

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