As has been well documented, Joel Embiid has a tricky foot injury from which a full recovery is not guaranteed. For big men in particular, foot, knee and back issues are a serious red flag, which is why the 7’0” Embiid fell to the Philadelphia 76ers at the No. 3 pick in this year’s NBA Draft.
At least one person doesn’t anticipate Embiid’s injury shortening his career, though—his surgeon, Dr. Richard Ferkel. In an exclusive interview with Mike Sielski for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Dr. Ferkel expressed optimism for a full recovery with no lingering effects from a broken navicular bone.
By his own estimation, Ferkel has done between 20 and 30 navicular-fracture surgeries, and in terms of the injury's severity and the patient's likelihood for a full recovery, he said that Embiid's situation was far from the worst of those.
"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 adds that it is “possible” Embiid could play this season. After the draft, Sixers GM Sam Hinkie indicated a timetable of five-to-eight months before Embiid returns to the hardwood.
Of course, how many times have you heard a doctor describe a professional athlete’s surgery as anything other than “successful?”
Sielski previously wrote about Yao Ming and Michael Jordan suffering the same injury, both to far different results. Jordan obviously went on to enjoy one of the greatest careers in NBA history, while Ming’s career was forever derailed.
Time will tell what Embiid’s fate is. For now, doctors and team executives are hopeful Embiid can beat this and go on to become one of the building blocks of the future for the 76ers.