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Godspeed, Big Dude

This can’t happen to that dude.

March 30, 2018 - 11:12 am
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This has been an incredible year for the Philadelphia 76ers. 44-30. Clinched a playoff spot. 8 straight wins. They’re peaking at the right time and they’re running way ahead of schedule. Because they not only look like a force in the future, they look like one right now. 

Joel Embiid going for 23 and 11 every night. Ben Simmons putting up 16, 8, and 8 as a rookie. Oh, and now they get to bring back Markelle Fultz, the first pick in last year’s draft to give them a boost off the bench. After being trapped in a nightmare for years, Sixer fans are living the damn dream.

And then BAM - it hit me like a truck. 

Well, not a truck, but like a 6’4, 200 pound guard to the face. Because that’s happened when Markelle and Joel were going for a loose ball Wednesday night. I haven’t talked about this much on the show because I haven’t wanted to talk about this much on the show. Because I’m not sure I can get through this without completely choking.

I don’t even want to play the clip right now, but I need to be a professional. I need to grind through this somehow. And realize, I can’t make it about it me. Because it’s not about me. It’s you and it’s about the show, and I need to put that first. And the freaking show must go on. The show. Must. Always. Go. On. So here you go.

When that happened, I’ll be straight. I threw up. In my own mouth. But then I did this box breathing technique that a navy seal demonstrated for me once. Just calm down, mentally and physically. I did everything I could not to completely lose my bleep. Not to rattle. Not to let anyone see me sweat. And then I went to work on limiting the chatter in my own brain. I told myself, it’s just a minor collision. It’s not a big deal. Just two guys colliding. Joel is indestructible. And getting taken out of by friendly fire is NOT part of the process. Walk it off, big fella. You got this. 

And then I saw him buckle on the way back to the locker room and I got worried. Honestly, I was freaking out. And if you’re saying to yourself, ‘what the hell is your problem, Rome?! Thought you didn’t root. You’re acting like it happened to your own kid: you’re acting like Embiid is your own or something. Right! I wish I was. I’m already on record with that. I love this dude. And I’m not going to apologize for it. He had been to hell and back physically, but he had managed to stay on the floor all season, and was deliver on his Hall of Fame potential every single night, on both ends of the floor. And now I see this dude, looking like he has no idea where he is, stumbling back to the locker room. Damn straight I was freaking out. I was tripping. Hard. But even as I closed all the curtains in my house, turned off all the lights, and sat in the darkness, I could not have imagined the news that would come after he went to the hospital.

Orbital fracture. Surgery. Possible concussion. Out two to four weeks. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

WHY?!? Whyyyyy whyyyy uhhhhhh ohhhh!

Why couldn’t have that been me? Take a two by four to my head, instead. This can’t happen to that dude. That is NOT a part of the process. Never mind the Sixers, the freaking universe not go without Joel Embiid for 2-4 weeks. I sure as hell know I can’t.

Forget about the playoffs and what that means for the Sixers and the fact that they are a completely different team both offensively and defensively without him. Forget about the fact that they outscore opponents by nearly 12 points per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor and are outscored by nearly 4 points per 100 possessions when he’s not. 

Forget about how that two to four week timeframe is the difference between him returning for the playoffs and him missing the first round completely.

Forget about all of that and think about me for a second. Because as bad as this news is for the Sixers, it’s even worse for me. I’ve said time and time again I could not love this guy more if he were my own son and I was so looking forward to seeing him on the biggest stage and now we’re talking about the possibility of him missing the first round of the playoffs and it’s ripping me apart. I feel someone close to me just died. What reason do I have to roll out of the rack, if this dude isn’t swatting fools into the 10th row and humiliating chumps every night. 

I was already getting ready for a full series of junk talking, rim-shaking, shot-blocking playoff games from Joel Embiid, followed by me rushing to my phone after the games to see what he’d posted on Instagram afterwards. And now that might be gone. 

The only silver lining is that while we won’t have Joel for a few weeks, he does still have his phone. 

I guess I gotta trust “The Process” that I’ve been preaching... Unfortunate freak accident but I’ll be more than fine. Injuries jokes coming in 3,2,1 #TheProcess #Two-Face

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that put a tear in my eye; and choke me up all over again... Trust the Process. Trust the doctors. And above all, trust the process. We’ll get through this, big dawg. Somehow, someway. I’m just going to keep repeating the mantra over and over again, until I see you killing fools again. Trust. The.  Process. Two. Face. Trust. The. Process. Two. Face. We got this. Godspeed, big dude.