Joel Embiid Says He Thought About Retiring During Injury-Plagued 1st Seasons

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2017

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 27: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts after a made basket against the Houston Rockets at the Wells Fargo Center on January 27, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid is one of the NBA's brightest young stars, but he acknowledged in an interview Friday that he considered retirement over the past two years.

Embiid missed each of his first two seasons because of foot injuries and was also dealing with the death of his brother at the time. The combination nearly caused him to walk away from the game.

"I was such in a dark place. I wanted to quit basketball," he said on ESPN Radio (h/t Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk). "I just wanted to go back home and just leave everything behind. That was right after my second surgery. I just couldn't do it anymore. I just wanted to, like, quit."

The former Kansas standout decided to keep going, however, and it has paid big dividends for both him and the Sixers.

Embiid has required a lot of rest this season and has appeared in only 31 games, but he produces in a significant way when he is on the floor.

The 7-footer is averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 2.1 assists per contest.

While Philadelphia is still struggling as a whole with a record of 21-35, it already has 11 more wins than it had last season.

The Cameroon native is an All-Star-level performer when healthy, and if 2016 No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons is as good as advertised when he returns from injury, the 76ers may finally have a championship-contending nucleus.