Injuries are the bane of sports fans everywhere. They can ruin a season, a playoff run, and sometimes a player’s career. Thankfully as technology and medicine have progressed the severity and occurrence of injuries have lessened but every now and then some still slip through the cracks and remind us of the reality of high intensity contact sports.
Two bright young NBA stars will be sidelined the rest of this season due to injuries. The social media sensation Joel Embiid is out after an MRI revealed a pronounced tear in the meniscus of his left knee. Meanwhile in Milwaukee Giannis lost his running mate in Jabari Parker due to a torn left ACL. Both players were in the midst of breakout seasons for their respective teams. Joel Embiid was a front runner for the rookie of the year and made it look as if Philly had finally found their savior. Parker on the other hand was quietly having a monster year for the Bucks averaging 20 points and 6 rebounds a game in the lanky shadow of the Greek Freak.
The problem is that this isn’t either player’s first major injury. Joel Embiid’s NBA debut was delayed two years due to lingering foot issues and this season wasn’t a cakewalk either. Even on a minutes restriction Embiid only played in 31 of the team’s 59 games before his injury. Parker’s ACL tear is his second in three years as he has yet to play a full NBA season.
Both teams are hopeful and optimistic that their players will rehab and make full recoveries but championships and legacies are not built on hope. Sooner rather than later the 76ers and the Bucks need to seriously look at their young stars because both Embiid and Parker are dangerously closer to entering a place you don’t want to be: Derrick Rose territory.
Derrick Rose, the youngest MVP in NBA history, now lives in a world where every time he makes an acrobatic play or a creative finish at the rim the highlight is labeled as a blast from the past or Rose turning back the clock. Rose is only 28 years old and yet it’s well accepted across the league that his prime is behind him and he will not return to the player he was before. Fair or unfair Rose’s stats do show a different player than before his injuries and his circus-like finishes at the rim have been few and far in-between. Pundits and critics chalk up this lesser Rose to the former MVP losing athleticism and explosiveness from his rash of injuries in subsequent years. This is where Parker and Embiid come back into this sad story.
Parker and Embiid currently stand at a dangerous crossroads. One season ending injury could happen to anyone. Two season ending injuries are incredibly unlucky and unfortunate. But what happens after that? How many more chances do you get before you are labeled as not dependable, injury prone, or (like Rose) a lesser version of yourself? Thankfully at 21 (Parker) and 22 (Embiid) the two young stars are on the right side of the age curve but Father Time is, and always will be, undefeated in the long run.
All NBA fans are rooting for a speedy and healthy recovery for both players, myself included, however Parker and Embiid both have two strikes against them and are in the danger zone of losing control over their promising careers. Only time will tell if both players bounce back to new and greater success or if their future highlights will just be a reminder of a former star.