PHILADELPHIA -- As Sixers coach Brett Brown started answering questions at his postgame press conference following Monday's 113-103 loss to the Miami Heat, his superstar center took to Instagram to vent. At that moment, Brown was unaware.
See, Joel Embiid hasn't played in a basketball game since Sixers rookie Markelle Fultz bumped into him during a game against the Knicks on March 28. Embiid fractured his orbital bone and suffered a concussion during the collision.
Publicly, Embiid has worn various protective masks during shootaround -- which he'll likely have to wear when/if he returns to game action as a preventative measure -- and even labeled himself the "Phantom of the Process." He wore a Phantom of the Opera mask to Game 1 of the Sixers' first-round playoff match-up with the Miami Heat and surprised the crowd when he rang the ceremonial liberty bell before the game.
He seemed like he was having fun. Privately, he's not. Well, it's public now.
Embiid posted a blank photo on Instagram during Brown's press conference that read ""F---ing sick and tired of being babied."
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The message was relayed to Brown.
The Sixers coach didn't mind it.
"He just wants to play basketball. He wants to be with his team. He wants to play in front of the fans. He wants to see this through," Brown said. "When he's not able to do that, he gets frustrated.
"I respect his frustration," Brown added. "It's born out of competitiveness, it's born out of him wanting to be with his team ... I do know the spirit at which he delivers that (Instagram post) reflects my conversations with him."
When Embiid suffered the injury on March 28, intial reports suggested he'd be out 2-4 weeks. Wednesday will be the three-week mark, and it's unclear if Embiid is any closer to returning.
Coming off a 113-103 loss to the Heat in Game 2 on Monday night, the Sixers need their best player, who was named an All-Star starter this year, just his second NBA season, and is in the running for Defensive Player of the Year and All-NBA.