Joel Embiid: Torn Meniscus, That Needed Surgery, Wasn't as Bad as First Thought

The Sixers' season ended with a loss to the Knicks on Wednesday night and Joel Embiid, of course, wasn't on the court. 

The big man and Rookie of the Year candidate hasn't played since late January because of a pair of left knee injuries. The more serious of the two was a torn meniscus that required surgery just about three weeks ago. 

Speaking for the first time since his surgery on March 24, to ESPN, Embiid said when doctors operated on him, they discovered the injury wasn't as bad as previously thought. 

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"I feel very lucky," Embiid said. "When I went into that surgery, I went in thinking I was going to have a six-month recovery. That's what they told me: six months or more. I'm thinking, 'No, not again.'

"When they did the MRI [before the surgery], it looked like my meniscus was fully torn. But when they got it in there, they realized that wasn't the case. It really turned out to be nothing, just a small, little thing. So that's very good."

The surgery took place in Los Angeles and the team deemed it a success after its completion. The surgeon who completed the procedure said in a statement that said the "overall status of Joel's lateral meniscus and cartilage is very good. [The] procedure focused on removing a small portion of the meniscus that was responsible for his symptoms." 

Embiid told ESPN he spent just "a couple of days" on crutches and has already been rehabbing his left knee. 

Embiid played in just 31 games in his rookie season after missing the entirety of his first two years in the league. But in limited time, he was more than impressive. Despite a minutes restriction, he averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists during his rookie season. 

And he thinks that should be good enough to earn him the Rookie of the Year award, even though he previously campaigned for Dario Saric to win the award. 

"I think so," Embiid said to ESPN. "I mean, no disrespect to other guys. Dario is my teammate and my friend, and I love him. And I know Malcolm [Brogdon] from when I was visiting schools. When I made my visit to Virginia, he took me around. They both had great seasons.

"I know people are saying about me, 'Oh, he only played 31 games.' But look at what I did in those 31 games -- averaging the amount of points I did in just 25 minutes.

"I'm not sure why people want to punish me for that. Even going back to the All-Star Game. I didn't get chosen for that, and people were killing me because I didn't play 30 minutes a game. But here's what I don't understand: If I put up those numbers in less time than another guy, what's the difference? Doesn't it mean I did more in less time? Wait until I play as many minutes as those guys, then you will see what I do.

"But people have their own ideas about how they vote for things."

Embiid's teammates will meet with the local media on Thursday morning in Camden, N.J., but Embiid will not be made available. 

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