For the fourth-straight season, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid is an All-Star starter. For the last three seasons, Embiid, without hesitation, accepted his invitation to play in the big showcase, despite taking on the risk of injuries in a meaningless matchup.
But this year was different. As the COVID-19 pandemic is still in effect, and his back tightness kept him out of a handful of games throughout the first half of the season, Embiid hesitated to confirm he'll play in the 2021 NBA All-Star game.
"We'll see -- we got a long season," Embiid said in regards to possibly playing in the game or not early on last month. "I missed a couple of games through that tightness from the fall against the Lakers. So, we'll see how I feel. If it's an issue or I'm not one-hundred percent [I might not play]. I'm focused on winning a championship and getting to the playoffs healthy. That's my main focus."
On Wednesday night, the Sixers wrapped up their final game during the first-half stretch of the season. With the All-Star game approaching this weekend, Embiid was asked whether he will play in the game or not after expressing some doubt early on. To really no surprise, the big man confirmed he's going to participate.
"Like I said before, you can never take those occasions for granted," Embiid said on Wednesday night. "It's a great feeling to be part of the best players in the world. I'm just looking to go out there, stay safe, and have fun playing the best game in basketball."
Later this week, Embiid, Ben Simmons, Doc Rivers, and the rest of the Sixers' coaching staff will travel to Atlanta for the competition. The game will be played at State Farm Arena and will tip-off at 8 PM EST.