Joel Embiid, former Kansas men’s basketball star and current center for the Philadelphia 76ers, openly showed his lack of enthusiasm for the upcoming restart of the NBA season in Orlando.
The NBA is attempting to restart and complete the 2019-20 season at the Wide World of Sports complex inside of Disney World, with play resuming July 30. The NBA is hoping to create a bubble-like atmosphere to protect players and team personnel from possible exposure to the coronavirus.
The 22 NBA teams vying to make it to the NBA Finals were allowed to start arriving in Orlando July 7 to begin a quarantine period within the bubble. The altered ending to the regular season will consist of eight games to finalize the playoff seedings.
“I hated the idea,” Embiid recently told NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I feel like, with everything that has been going on, it’s unfortunate what’s been going on in the world.”
“To me, all I want is to stay healthy and stay safe, keep the people around me safe,” Embiid continued. “I want to make sure I’m able to live for a long time and not have any sort of consequences from this if I were to be in a situation where I was getting the virus.”
Joel Embiid on concerns going into Orlando: “I’m not a big fan of the idea. But then again, I’m going to do my job. I’m not going to let the city down. I’m going to represent my city, my family, my teammates - that’s what I’ve always done.” #Sixershttps://t.co/v7pIJGfGIH pic.twitter.com/1OcTptsRJe— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) July 7, 2020
While Embiid is not worried about suppressing his own personal habits inside the bubble, he is worried that others within the bubble environment will not follow the protocols put in place by the league.
"At the end of the day, basketball is not all that matters," Embiid said. "I've got family, I've got myself to look out for. That's all I care about."
However, Embiid still traveled with his team to Orlando this week. Embiid expressed that his loyalty to his teammates and the city of Philadelphia will not impede him from wanting to compete.
“Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of the idea," Embiid said. "But then again, I’m going to do my job. It doesn’t matter the fact that I don’t like that idea, and I still don’t believe in it, and I don’t think it’s going to be safe.”
Embiid talked about how he wants to be remembered by his fans as Joel Embiid the person, not just Joel Embiid the basketball player. He also believes that this could be the year for Philadelphia to win it all.
"I’ve been here too long and this is my opportunity," Embiid said. "I feel like we have a good chance at winning the championship. I don’t want to let everybody down. I’ve been working too hard for this so I just gotta keep pushing and hope for the best.”
As of Thursday morning, 10 players have opted out of the restart for a variety of reasons, including Brooklyn Nets players Spencer Dinwiddie and DeAndre Jordan testing positive for the coronavirus.
Some other former Jayhawks who are headed to Orlando including Milwaukee Bucks guard Frank Mason III, Los Angeles Clippers forward Marcus Morris, Los Angeles Lakers forward Markieff Morris, the Houston Rockets guard Ben McLemore.