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76ers' Joel Embiid on COVID-19 Diagnosis: 'I Thought I Wasn't Going to Make It'

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IINovember 28, 2021

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid, right, cannot get a shot past Minnesota Timberwolves' Naz Reid, center, and Anthony Edwards during the final seconds of double overtime in an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid returned from a nine-game absence after testing positive for COVID-19 by posting 42 points and 14 rebounds in 45 minutes during a 121-120 double-overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

After the game, Embiid spoke about his experience:

"That jawn hit me hard," Embiid told reporters as he smiled. "I thought I wasn't going to make it."

NBC Sports Philadelphia @NBCSPhilly

β€œI really thought I wasn’t going to make it. It was that bad.” 😳<br><br>Joel Embiid's bout with COVID-19 was worse than he ever imagined. <a href="https://t.co/JE3zK0PElT">pic.twitter.com/JE3zK0PElT</a>

Embiid added that it was a "miracle" he played as many minutes as he did Saturday.

He barely rested after halftime, playing the entire third quarter and both overtime periods. Embiid hit the bench for the first 3:40 of the fourth.

Embiid battled on the court with Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, who lost eight family members to COVID-19, including his mother, Jacqueline Cruz-Towns.

The Minnesota big man also had COVID-19 himself and spoke with reporters after the game. He and Embiid have an on-court rivalry, but that was put to the side as Towns shared his experiences with the Philly center.

Dane Moore @DaneMooreNBA

Karl-Anthony Towns said he talked to Joel Embiid before the game about overcoming COVID.<br><br>"We've had our thing for a while, but this is bigger than basketball. That's bigger than what we have. I've seen it kill people. And I'm glad he's on the other side." <a href="https://t.co/e5hxiYQM1i">https://t.co/e5hxiYQM1i</a>

Embiid and the 76ers will play again Monday at home against the Orlando Magic.