US basketball

Joel Embiid plays through Bell’s palsy: ‘Pretty annoying’


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Joel Embiid plays through Bell’s palsy: ‘Pretty annoying’

MVP. Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid walks off the court during the playoffs.

Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

‘It's been tough, but I'm not a quitter,’ says reigning MVP Joel Embiid, who sustained his stellar outings in the playoffs despite suffering from facial paralysis

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid produced his best-ever postseason performance on Thursday, April 25, despite dealing with the facial condition Bell’s palsy.

The problem began more than a week ago.

“Pretty annoying with the left side of my face, my mouth and my eye,” Embiid said after scoring a playoff career-high 50 points in Philadelphia’s 125-114 Game 3 win over the visiting New York Knicks. 

“It’s been tough, but I’m not a quitter. Gotta keep fighting through anything. It’s unfortunate, that’s the way I look at it. But that’s not an excuse. Gotta keep pushing.”

Bell’s palsy causes facial muscle weakness or paralysis, affecting the muscles on one side of the face. It often begins suddenly and worsens over the course of several days, stemming from damage to the facial nerve.

The symptoms typically begin to lessen within a few weeks, with complete recovery generally occurring by six months.

Embiid had noticeable moments of his face appearing to droop to one side during the game.

“I think it started a day or two before the Miami game,” Embiid said, referring to the 76ers’ play-in win over the Miami Heat on April 17. 

“I battled migraines and thought it was nothing. Usually I like to tough out, but for some reason I ended up having to tell somebody. That’s why that Miami game, my body, I just was not feeling (good).”

Embiid still finished with team highs of 23 points and 15 rebounds in that game.

In the first two games of the New York series, both won by the Knicks, Embiid averaged 31.5 points and 9 rebounds. –

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