Mar 1, 2014; Stillwater, OK, USA; Kansas Jayhawks center Joel Embiid (21) is defended by Oklahoma State Cowboys forward/center Kamari Murphy (21) and guard Markel Brown (22) during the first half at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Joel Embiid Signs with adidas, Gets Good News on Injured Foot


Adidas announced today that Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, along with Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart, are the newest members of the three stripes family. Embiid and Smart join fellow lottery picks Dante Exum and former 76ers crush Andrew Wiggins on the adidas roster.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, Embiid will earn $1.5 million total over four years. That’s great and all, but nothing compared to his college teammate.

Adidas currently outfits All-Stars like Damian Lillard, John Wall, Dwight Howard, Joakim Noah and the perpetually-injured, once-upon-a-time MVP Derrick Rose. Let’s hope Embiid, and the surgically-repaired navicular bone in his foot, never has to wear a pair of D. Rose’s.

In an exclusive interview with Mike Sielski of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Embiid’s surgeon Dr. Richard Ferkel talked about the intricacies of his injury and shed some light on when we may actually see him lace up his adidas kicks on the court. With news that should make all anxious 76ers fans exhale a huge, momentary sigh of relief, Ferkel was optimistic about Embiid’s long-term health.

“Once he’s fully healed, his chances of having a long career are very good,” Ferkel said in a phone interview. “There’s no reason he shouldn’t have a great NBA career and be very successful. Once this heals, hopefully this won’t be an issue for him in the future.”

Ferkel, who previously helped rid Ray Allen and Manu Ginobili of foot issues, said Embiid sustained a “clean break” and inserted two screws into his foot immediately. Embiid’s agent, Arn Tellem, sought out Ferkel’s expertise once Embiid complained of foot issues after a pre-draft workout with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The original article – and Wednesday’s follow-up with even more insight and information — is a must-read for anyone who has a rooting interest in Embiid’s recovery. That’s all of you, Sixers fans. Here are some of the highlights.

On Embiid’s rehabilitation process:

Embiid’s rehabilitation will proceed in stages. He’s in the midst of a six-week stretch during which he cannot put any weight on the foot. From there, he’ll don a specialized boot and train both in a swimming pool and on an antigravity treadmill. After 12 to 16 weeks, he’ll begin a running program, and Ferkel will use an ultrasound stimulator on him to hasten the bone’s growth and healing.

On his sneaker company making a specific shoe to minimize the chance of future injuries:

Ferkel noted that once Embiid signed an endorsement contract with a sneaker company, the company would design a custom-made shoe for him to try to prevent or mitigate further injury to his foot. This is common practice around the NBA. “Everyone wears orthotics,” Ferkel said. 

On the comparisons to Bill Walton‘s injury:

“Bill Walton’s injury was initially missed. That led to some of the problems that came down the road for him.”

And Yao Ming‘s:

“I can’t really discuss it per se in specifics, but I can tell you that he had a completely different set of circumstances that were unique to him that made it a little more difficult. In general terms, I can tell you from doing this for a long time that when an NBA player also plays for the national team during the summer, when he should be resting, it makes it much more difficult to prevent injuries when they come back the following NBA season. I have personally shut down some of my players who I’ve operated on from playing for their national teams to prevent them from getting reinjured and giving them time to really rest.”

When Sam Hinkie spoke to the media the day after the NBA draft, he insisted on a five-to-eight month timeline for Embiid’s recovery, which Ferkel confirmed. Given what we know about Hinkie, the long-term goals of the organization and how Nerlens Noel’s injury was handled last year, 76ers fans should not expect to see Embiid on the court in the 2014-15 NBA season.

However, when the time comes, it will be adidas that houses Embiid’s surgically-repaired foot in their lightweight basketball shoes. I guess you could say adidas holds the hopes of an entire city and the health of its future franchise player in there too.

No pressure, adidas.

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