Joel Embiid needs an MRI on his hyperextended left knee when the 76ers get back home. This after he just got back from health-and-safety protocols and having to (getting to?) sit out of the All-Star Game.
It stinks, and you have to hope that it’s not serious, but the important thing to keep in mind is that while Philadelphia is on top of the East right now, the race for seeding is not nearly as important for the 76ers as having a healthy Embiid in the playoffs.
Embiid was drafted in 2014 and he’s played 273 games in his NBA career, including playoffs. He’s never played more than 75 between the regular and postseasons. He’s a phenomenal talent who struggles to stay healthy, and that’s just the way it is for some athletes. All anyone can do is try to manage it and be cautious with returns to action so as not to have the injuries spiral out of control.
It winds up making for easy fodder for radio jerks and assorted talking-head louts to criticize Embiid or other athletes in a similar position, like Giancarlo Stanton, but it’s all tired stuff because it ascribes mental weakness to what’s just a physical truth: not everybody’s body is made to hold up for as much basketball as is played in an NBA season or as much baseball is played in an MLB season or as much hockey is played in an NHL season.
Would you rather watch Kawhi Leonard in mid-March or mid-June? Would you rather watch Aaron Judge in mid-June or mid-October? Load management is real and a wise concept, and while that runs up against sports being an entertainment product, there’s a silliness to the criticism of these athletes that rings hollow and is better off just being ignored.
If you haven’t started paying attention to Kirill Kaprizov, now’s the time. The 23-year-old Russian rookie, who had nine points in six games en route to the 2018 Olympic gold medal, notched his first NHL hat trick on Friday night against the Coyotes.
The Wild’s gorgeous Reverse Retro jerseys came along just in time for the Wild to start playing watchable hockey for the first time since Marian Gaborik was there.
Does Kaprizov mean that it’s worth raising expectations for the Wild? They’ll make the playoffs because the three California teams and Arizona are basura, but the top of the West Division is tough. Still, as it stands right now, the Wild would love to face the Blues and let the Golden Knights and Avalanche square off in the first round.
Might have to pump the brakes on that thought a little bit … mid-March this year isn’t what mid-March usually is, as instead of ending in a couple of weeks, the season goes until the second weekend in May. Does anyone else find themselves having to keep reminding themselves of that? Just us? Okay.