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Did pressure to play exacerbate Joel Embiid’s knee injury?

Rachel Nichols and Boogie Cousins discuss the latest health news involving the 76ers star and what factors played a role.

On this week’s Bully Ball, Rachel Nichols and Boogie Cousins discuss the latest on Joel Embiid’s injury with the 76ers.

We learned on Tuesday morning that Embiid would be out at least four weeks after what has been termed a “left meniscus procedure.”

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Rachel was discouraged reading articles reporting that it’s not out of the question that Embiid will return this season, as normally it’s the other way around. She says the idea that they’re even thinking about the fact Embiid could miss the rest of the season is frustrating.

Rachel runs quickly through the sequence of events, from when he was initially injured to sitting out a marquee matchup against Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets and getting a lot of flak on the internet, leading to Joel trying to play through it and making the injury worse. Given how online Embiid has seemed at times, does Boogie think the comments and criticisms online played a role in Embiid playing hurt and making his injury worse?

“I absolutely think it played a role in it,” Boogie says.

Boogie agrees that Embiid is a guy who pays attention to what is being said, which isn’t always a bad thing. But this is a very unfortunate situation and he says it goes back to the 65-game rule that has been getting so much attention of late. Boogie says he thought Embiid was the front-runner to win the MVP, and it stinks what has happened. He says that Embiid maybe playing only 50 games and completing the season at the end of the day is better for the league, for the fans and also for the 76ers organization. Boogie would rather Embiid play fewer games than pressing to meet the 65-game threshold and having these type of results. Boogie understands what the league is doing, but he would suggest that they continue to experiment with the right way to combat load management in order to find the perfect mixture for the players and the fans, as well.

Rachel reiterates a point she’s long been making — she understands the frustration that comes for fans buying tickets and not seeing stars play and she understands why the NBA wants to address load management, however, she doesn't think this 65-game rule has anything to do with solving that problem. She says we’ve already seen that guys aren’t necessarily coming back from injury early in order to hit that marker, so it’s not working. And the one guy who did got a lot more hurt and he’s a huge star that the league won’t have now for an extended stretch and maybe beyond. Rachel says there doesn’t need to be hard number for a games-played requirement that puts this kind of pressure on players, especially when it generally isn’t working anyways. So let’s find something that does work, and it starts, she says with owners looking after their own house and making their own players play — not the ones who are hurt, but rather the ones who are just resting. Embiid was playing so well and now it’s just a bummer what happened.

Listen or watch the full show below and make sure to tune in to new episodes of Bully Ball every Monday at 6 p.m. ET on DraftKings Network!


Embiid’s Injury Impact, Trade Deadline Preview, Are Cavs Contenders? | Episode 13 | BULLY BALL

  • This week on BULLY BALL, Boogie is BACK from Taiwan and we finally know what a Beer Leopard is. The duo discusses Embiid’s injury and the impact the 65-game rule had. Plus, they discuss the trade deadline and Boogie gives his case for a Kyrie to the Lakers trade and they debate if the Cavs are contenders.


Check out the DraftKings YouTube page and the All The Smoke Productions YouTube page for more. Subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also follow Rachel Nichols and Demarcus Cousins on X at @Rachel__Nichols and @boogiecousins.

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