Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers will head to Orlando with championship aspirations, as they get a healthy Ben Simmons back on the floor for the eight-game push to the postseason. If at full strength, Philly figures to be a force to be reckoned with, but that of course comes with the giant caveat hanging over the NBA that is: Will this restart go off without a hitch?
We’ve already seen a number of players, most of whom are not on championship contenders, withdraw due to injury concerns, family concerns, or testing positive for COVID-19 prior to going to Orlando. As the MLS battles outbreaks within their bubble at Disney, with one team withdrawing and another having to have a game postponed, there has to be at least some concern something similar could happen to the NBA if they don’t take extreme precaution.
The league has done what it believes to be what is necessary with the guidelines in place for testing, isolation, and distancing — particularly important early on as players arrive from all around the country. Embiid himself isn’t a fan of the NBA’s restart plan and has plenty of concerns, one of which being that he doesn’t trust all of his fellow players to do their part in following those protocols and rules that are in place to try and mitigate any spread of the virus in the bubble, as he told reporters on Tuesday via Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia.
“I look at myself and I’ve been doing this for quite a bit now — six, seven years,” he said. “Like I said, all I do is play video games and stay in my room on the road, or even when I’m home. Just stay home, play video games, do what I’ve got to do. Just being with my family.
“And obviously we’re all different. Some guys like to go out and some guys like to do stuff, (there are) some guys that like adventure. So that’s the way I’m thinking. I know myself. I know I’m not going to put everybody else at risk, but the question is, is everybody else going to do the same? And just being around this business, I surely don’t think so.”
Embiid has concerns about the motivation for the league pushing so hard for the restart (money) and whether it will be truly safe, but also said he doesn’t want to let down his teammates and the city so he’ll be going and trying to play for a championship. His point on players potentially not following protocols is valid, and it remains to be seen if the league will be able to effectively enforce the rules to keep players from breaking the bubble or doing things inside of it that could put the restart in jeopardy.