By Peter Gleason
Maybe because they have been criticized for not being more forthcoming, but two days after Sixers rookie went through his second foot surgery in 14 months, the team was excruciatingly detailed in its public response.
Embiid finally underwent surgery on his navicular bone on Tuesday, and he’s still supposed to miss the entire 2015-16 season. After more than a month of silence from general manager Sam Hinkie since the team announced Embiid would need foot surgery, the team issued a long, long statement about the procedure and what’s next for him:
President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Sam Hinkie:
“This morning, Joel Embiid underwent a bone graft procedure of the navicular bone at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
“The highly accomplished team of surgeons involved in Joel’s procedure today included:
Dr. Martin O’Malley – Associate Attending Orthopedic Surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery
Dr. Richard Ferkel – Director of the Sports Medicine Fellowship Program at the Southern California Orthopedic Institute
Dr. Dufetti Fufa – Orthopedic and Vascular Surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery
Dr. Jonathan Glashow – Sixers Chief Medical Officer and Co-Chief of Sports Medicine Orthopedics at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center
Dr. Christopher Dodson – Sixers Head Physician and Orthopedic Surgeon of the Rothman Institute at Jefferson
“Everyone involved – our organization, Joel, and his agent Darren Matsubara of Wasserman Media Group – worked diligently to assemble this highly sought after group of professionals. The goal was simple: Provide the best possible care for Joel to maximize his opportunity for a long and successful NBA career.”
Associate Attending Orthopedic Surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery Dr. Martin O’Malley:
“Joel Embiid underwent a procedure this morning to address the existing fracture site of his right foot navicular bone.
“Visual inspection suggested good vascularity of the bone. We replaced the two existing screws and performed a bone graft of the site using bone from his hip.
“We were able to identify that bone’s integrity was even better than expected and has been put in a great position to support full recovery.
“The entire procedure lasted approximately three hours and there were no complications.”
Philadelphia 76ers Director Of Performance Research & Development Dr. David T. Martin:
“Following the procedure this morning, I had a chance to debrief with the medical staff, Darren Matsubara and Joel’s parents. All of us were collectively encouraged by the feedback we received.
“Moving forward, our sports performance staff will work with Joel to guide his return to play and monitor his progress against targeted benchmarks. Our team will work with Joel to create the best possible environment for healing so he can achieve his goals.
“We will now move into the first phase of the recovery process, which will include a focus on general health and fitness, as well as non-weight bearing movement for the injured limb. We will incorporate a broad network of resources into Joel’s return to play program, one that we believe will give him the best opportunity to make a complete recovery.”
The most notable thing here is the sheer amount of detail that the Sixers included. They’ve always been patient with injuries and they’ve always been tight-lipped about … well, everything. Philly had claimed that it would get the best doctors possible and do what was best for Embiid’s long-term health, and the organization seems to want its fans to be absolutely sure that it’s following through.
Embiid hasn’t played a single game since being drafted No. 3 overall in 2014. The Sixers were vague all along about when they expected him to be ready, but this past summer league seemed like a reasonable target. That obviously wasn’t to be — the news that he needed surgery officially hit right as summer league was starting. Now, the Sixers can only wait and hope that he’s ready next summer. No one knows exactly what’s going to happen with big men Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor playing together, and it’s impossible to be confident that Embiid is going to be a franchise player after all of this.
Still, it’s worth mentioning that the words “full recovery” are present in this press release. Publicly, the Sixers are at least acting like they expect him to get completely back to the prospect that he was coming out of Kansas. That guy was a combination of the best parts of Noel and Okafor’s respective games, someone who can be dominant on both ends of the floor. Given the way his career has started, it’s easy to forget just how special his skill set was. Here’s hoping that he’s eventually able to show it.