Imagine an NBA without Philadelphia 76ers big man, Joel Embiid. It’s tough to picture it, right? Well, the crazy thing is, it almost happened. We almost lost Joel Embiid in the basketball world. While the young seven-foot center was going through a rough time early on in his career, Embiid was considering leaving the game for good, despite being a superstar.
The Sixers selected Embiid with the third pick of the 2014 NBA Draft. Coming out of Kansas, Joel Embiid only had one year of college basketball under his belt. The star center didn’t play the game for long, but it was clear that if he was willing to work hard, he could be one of the top players in his draft class. Had it not been for a broken foot, Embiid could’ve been the first-overall pick that year. But his stock slipped a bit when NBA front offices figured he wouldn’t be able to debut until the following year.
That didn’t shy the Sixers away from Embiid, though. Going through the entire process, meant the Sixers needed to lose games in order to improve their next potential draft position. Having Embiid on the shelf was a win-win situation for Philly. Unfortunately, Embiid’s return was short-lived after he ended up missing the rest of his debut season with the Sixers after playing only 31 games. The media was hard on him, and life was coming at him fast.
Embiid Was Close to Hanging It Up
Being the center of attention at such a young age is tough. In his third NBA season, Joel Embiid is only 24-years-old. And after all of the obstacles that were getting in his way, Embiid almost didn’t make it to year three. As a matter of fact, even year two was tough to get through. Fortunately for not only the Sixers but Embiid as well, the young star stuck with the game and worked through the pain.
Now, Embiid is recognized as one of the best centers in the game. And in 2018, he is currently having an MVP-caliber season. Averaging 27 points-per-game, 13 rebounds, and two blocks, Embiid is by far one of the hottest players on the court right now. Not to mention, he was an All-Star in 2017, and also had All-NBA Second-Team honors.
If Embiid did end up quitting basketball early on, he states he would’ve moved back home to Cameroon. His first year’s salary would’ve been more than enough to have the seven-foot star living comfortably. But Embiid pushed through the pain and worked himself back to normal, and now he is a face of one of the Eastern Conference’s hottest teams right now.