76ers' Joel Embiid Discusses His Generous Donations During the Pandemic

Justin Grasso

When the NBA suspended the 2019-2020 season back in March, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid couldn't believe it. On March 11th, the Sixers' big man returned to the court for the first time in weeks after recovering from a shoulder injury.

In a game against the Detroit Pistons, Embiid was looking to uplift the Sixers' spirit after they just wrapped up a four-game road trip on the West Coast, losing three out of the four matchups. With 27 minutes of playing time, Embiid dropped 30 points in his return to help the 76ers knock off Detroit 124-106.

The big man was back and looking forward to hopefully closing out the final third of the NBA season healthy. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic slowed Embiid and the rest of the team's progress down as the NBA season was suspended just moments after the Sixers returned to their locker room on March 11th.

"When the NBA put the season on hold, I literally couldn't believe it," Embiid told Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal. "If something could shut down the NBA, then I really needed to understand it." Embiid continued to put in work at the Sixers' practice facility to rehab his shoulder throughout the suspension. 

But the big man's day didn't end after the gym. Embiid remained productive off the court as the pandemic hit the United States, and he researched some significant issues in order to find ways he can help out. "I am lucky to be in a position to help," Embiid said. "I immediately wanted to know how best I could help."

After doing tons of research with his team, Embiid managed to donate half a million dollars to First Responders First to provide personal protective equipment to hospitals in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania. He also donated to Penn Medicine to help provide antibody blood tests, which has become a popular way of seeing if somebody has contracted the virus before and could potentially be immune now.

[RELATED: Tobias Harris Makes Several Contributions During Pandemic]

Embiid was one of the first members of the 76ers to make a generous donation during the pandemic a couple of months ago. And since then, his generosity has encouraged other members of the team to contribute as well. "I think everyone feels a personal connection to health care workers now," he mentioned. "These doctors and nurses are on the front line of this crisis, risking their own safety every single day to protect us. They are real-life superheroes, but we can't forget that they aren't superhuman. They need all the support, equipment, and resources we can give them."

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_