Joel Embiid on Playing Through Back Injury vs. Pacers: 'I'm a Warrior'

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistJanuary 18, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 17:  Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers dribbles the ball against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on January 17, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana.   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 Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid didn't let a back injury keep him out of the lineup for Thursday night's showdown against the Indiana Pacers.

"I'm a warrior, and I wouldn't let my teammates down," Embiid said after a 120-96 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, per NBC Sports Philadelphia's Serena Winters. "I felt that we needed this game for home-court advantage, so I knew I had to play to give us a better chance to win the game."

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Although he looked uncomfortable at times during the game, the All-Star center flirted with a triple-double. He recorded 22 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists and three blocks in 35 minutes.

The victory helped Philadelphia (30-16) pull into a tie with Indiana (29-15) for the third spot in the Eastern Conference.

Embiid's status for Thursday was uncertain before tip-off because of lower back tightness. And while he played, he still had to treat his back during the game. Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer noted Embiid was using a foam roller during the first quarter.

Many, like The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor, praised Embiid for a gutsy effort. Not everyone was a fan of his appearance, though. Former Sixer and current TNT analyst Charles Barkley, per PhillyVoice.com's Kyle Neubeck, called Philadelphia "the stupidest organization in the history of sports" for having Embiid play through this ailment. 

Embiid has dealt with injuries such as a broken foot and an orbital fracture in his career, and he's never appeared in more than 63 regular-season games in a single season since being drafted third overall in 2014. That includes being sidelined for his first two seasons.

This back injury wasn't enough to keep him out of Thursday night's game, but it will be worth keeping an eye on.

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