The NBA is working on finalizing a plan to have a 2021 NBA All-Star game amid the pandemic. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the league is aiming for a March 7 tip-off. On Thursday, the first wave of voting numbers came in, and Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid was expectedly on the list.
As he continues to look like an MVP candidate, it’s no surprise Embiid is well on his way to earning his fourth-straight All-Star appearance. Over the last three seasons, the Sixers’ big man participated in the event without hesitation despite his shaky past regarding his health.
But this year, it might be a different story. As the COVID-19 pandemic is still in effect, Embiid is one of many players who remain concerned. Before heading down to the Orlando bubble over the summer, the big man admitted he considered sitting out before ultimately making the trip.
Now, he’s contemplating whether he should travel to Atlanta, Georgia, in the spring if he gets voted in to compete in his fourth All-Star game or not. “I’ve always been conservative,” Embiid said on Thursday night. “You know, I’ve always voiced my opinion since the pandemic started, starting with the bubble.”
While Embiid acknowledged the good job the NBA has done navigating a season through a pandemic, he still has “mixed feelings” about additional plans such as an All-Star game. The veteran center is appreciative of the consideration and wants to be named an All-Star once again, but he has a lot to weigh out in his mind as he thinks about potentially playing or sitting out from this year’s All-Star event.
“We’ll see — we got a long season,” Embiid said in regards to possibly playing in the game or not. “I missed a couple of games through that tightness from the fall against the Lakers. So, we’ll see how I feel. If it’s an issue or I’m not one-hundred percent [I might not play]. I’m focused on winning a championship and getting to the playoffs healthy. That’s my main focus.”
Embiid has made it apparent over the last two years that getting to the playoffs healthy is his number one priority. This year, he’s even more serious as he took additional measures off the court to make sure his body is in tip-top shape. As he’s currently having the best season of his career and looks healthier than ever despite minor setbacks, Embiid seems willing to pass up on an event like the All-Star game to ensure he’s healthy for a possible championship run with the Sixers.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_