Sunday’s 2021 NBA All-Star Game figured to be the proverbial cherry on top for what had been an incredible first half of the season for the Philadelphia 76ers. The team currently sits atop the Eastern Conference and its dynamic duo was taking center stage with Joel Embiid slated to start in the contest for Team Durant, while Ben Simmons would suit up for Team LeBron.
Alas, it was not to be as the 76ers stars became late scratches on the morning of the league’s mid-season classic. As relayed by Heavy‘s Mike Greger, Embiid and Simmons had both come into contact with a person who had tested positive for COVID-19.
In short order, their scheduled media sessions were canceled and the two were subsequently ruled out as All-Star participants. According to the New York Times’ Marc Stein, they were on their way back home before the game even tipped off (after having tested negative themselves).
Consequently, coach Doc Rivers was left as Philadelphia’s sole representative at the Atlanta, Georgia event. And while his involvement marked the first time since Larry Brown in 2001 that a 76ers coach was on the sidelines for the game, the weekend clearly lost some sizzle for fans in Philly.
For his part, Embiid looked to be feeling the sting of disappointment, too, as he took to Twitter to lament his bad luck.
Embiid on His Ill-Fated Cut
The Sixers’ MVP candidate and his running mate found themselves in COVID-19 protocol as a result of a visit to their personal barber, who later registered the positive test result. For Embiid, the fact that his new cut ultimately led to his exclusion from the All-Star Game was the ultimate irony given the slew of fresh hairdos he could spot as he watched the event.
“Looking at those fresh shape-ups and I had to be the one,” he tweeted, along with a picture of himself shrugging at an official during the Sixers’ recent win over the Utah Jazz.
As of this writing, Embiid’s tweet has racked up almost 35,000 likes. He clearly wasn’t alone in bemoaning his misfortune, as fans replied in droves with words of support for the big man.
“Save your energy for winning that championship king,” wrote one commenter.
“I’m sorry you can’t be out there big fella,” added another fan.
Others were less kind, with another commenter tweeting, “Trust the process??……only if that process includes being incredibly stupid & selfish. That goes for Ben also.”
Looking at those fresh shape-ups and I had to be the one pic.twitter.com/BESWmi01XV
— Joel “Troel” Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) March 8, 2021
Fellow All-Stars Call Sixers’ Dual Scratch ‘Unfortunate’
The Sixers stars and their fans weren’t the only ones who were saddened by the development. As noted by The Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Keith Pompey, several of the players in Atlanta were hoping to share the court with Embiid and Simmons.
“It is extremely unfortunate and, from what I’ve heard, they did everything right,” said Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls.
“I think it’s very unfortunate that Joel and Ben won’t be able to play on our game tonight,” added Los Angeles Lakers star and All-Star captain LeBron James. “Obviously, they are two worthy All-Stars and this means a lot to all of us.”