As NBA teams begin to travel to Orlando for the resumption of the 2019-20 season, there is still some concern among players in the league about the safety of playing. No one is required to participate in the restart plan, and several players have decided to sit out for various reasons, whether it's injury related or concern due to the coronavirus. Still, though, a majority of the league's players will be competing at Disney World starting July 30, despite not feeling great about the bubble idea.
Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid is one of those players. During a conference call with media members Tuesday afternoon, Embiid spoke candidly about why he doesn't support the NBA's decision to play in Florida for several months during a pandemic that has shown no signs of slowing down in the United States.
"I hated the idea," Embiid said. "I feel like with everything that has been going on, it's unfortunate what's been going on in the world. Obviously people look at it in a different way. There might be some other reasons behind everything going on. To me, that part never mattered. To me, all I want is to stay healthy and stay safe, keep the people around me safe. I want to make sure I'm able to live for a long time and not have any sort of consequences in the future from this if I were to be in a situation where I was getting the virus."
Embiid went on to say, that while he doesn't agree with the plan, his mindset is to still go out there and give it his all.
"Unfortunately, I'm not a big fan of the idea. But then again, I'm going to do my job," Embiid said. "I'm not going to let the city down. I'm going to represent my city -- that's what I've always done -- my family, my teammates. The mindset doesn't change. It doesn't matter the fact that I don't like that idea and I still don't believe in it. I don't think it's going to be safe enough."
The NBA has gone to great lengths to try to limit the spread of COVID-19. However, 100 percent safety cannot be guaranteed. Players will be tested daily, they'll adhere to strict guidelines that won't allow them to leave and return to the bubble without properly quarantining, and in the event that a player does test positive they will have to be isolated from their teammates until they test negative for the virus twice in a row.
Still, though, Embiid doesn't trust others to follow the rules.
"I know I'm going to do the right things, I know I don't ever do anything, I only play video games, I'm always home -- I don't do anything," Embiid said. "But then again, I don't trust those other guys to do the same. But, like I said, I've gotta do my job."
The Sixers are expected to travel to Florida on Thursday, where they will be quarantined for a few days before continuing basketball activities. While Embiid will be traveling with the team to play, the thought of opting out of the season did cross his mind.
"I thought about it, but then again, I wouldn't let my teammates down," Embiid said. "I play in a city that's tough and I consider myself as being tough … I'm not going to give up that easily. If you told me that the current trend is that people are getting sick and a lot of people are dying, obviously you don't know what's going to happen and you don't want to be in a situation where you put your life at risk ... and all that stuff, just for what? The money and all that stuff. At the end of the day, basketball is not all that matters. I've got family, I've got myself to look out for. That's all I care about."
"At the end, when it's all said and done, basketball shouldn't define me. I should be looked at as just Joel Embiid the person. Like I said, it's unfortunate but I want to represent my city. I've been here too long. This is my opportunity. I believe we have a great chance of winning the championship. Still not 100 percent sure, but that's what I'm thinking. I want to represent the city. I don't want to let my teammates down. I don't want to let anybody down. I've been working too hard for this and I've just got to keep pushing and hope for the best."
Embiid said he knows that he won't be putting anyone in danger, because he won't have a difficult time following the guidelines set by the league. However, it's other players who may not take it as seriously that he's concerned about.
"Obviously we're all different. Some guys like to go out and some guys like to do stuff, [there are] some guys that like adventure," Embiid said. "So that's the way I'm thinking. I know myself. I know I'm not going to put everybody else at risk, but the question is, is everybody else going to do the same? And just being around this business, I surely don't think so."