Philadelphia 76ers: Opting-out of Orlando Crossed Joel Embiid's Mind

Justin Grasso

This month, hundreds of NBA players will travel to Orlando, Florida, with the intention of remaining in a secluded city known as the NBA's 'bubble' in order to conclude the unfinished 2019-2020 season. However, not every player and every team will be involved. 

Just 22 teams will take a flight to the NBA's bubble -- with the Philadelphia 76ers being one of them. And even though the Sixers and 21 other teams were invited, players weren't going to be forced to go and play with all that's going on around the world between the COVID-19 pandemic, and the fight against racism and social injustice in America. 

Last week, Sixers head coach Brett Brown mentioned he was under the impression that every player on his team's roster planned to attend Orlando this summer/fall (excluding the injured second-year guard, Zhaire Smith). 

But just because all of the players on the roster agreed to go, doesn't mean the thought of opting-out didn't cross any of their minds. In fact, the 76ers' three-time All-Star center Joel Embiid recently admitted he was almost out on the idea of joining the NBA's restart this summer.

"I thought about [not going to Orlando]," Embiid said via a virtual press conference on Tuesday afternoon. "But then again, I wouldn't want to let my teammates down. You don't want to be in a situation where you put your life at risk."

Many NBA players understand they are taking a significant risk by joining hundreds of other players, coaches, and staffers in the bubble. A lot of them are putting tons of trust into the NBA's plans, though. And while Embiid, like a handful of players, considered opting-out, the Sixers' big man made it clear he's committed to being a part of the 76ers' third-straight playoff run in 2020. 

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