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Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid Says COVID 'Hit Me Hard': 'I Thought I Wasn't Going to Make It'

·2-min read
Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers points against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second quarter at the Wells Fargo Center on January 6, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers points against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second quarter at the Wells Fargo Center on January 6, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Mitchell Leff/Getty

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid is detailing his "hard" experience with COVID-19.

On Saturday, the 27-year-old returned to the court after missing nine games due to testing positive for COVID on Nov. 8. He told reporters that the virus left him with breathing difficulties and "headaches worse than a migraine."

"It hasn't been good. That jawn hit me hard," Embiid said during a post-game press conference. "I really thought I wasn't going to make it. It was that bad. So I'm just thankful to be sitting here. I struggled with it, but I'm just glad that I got over it and I'm here doing what I love with some good people."

The Philadelphia 76ers declined to confirm Embiid's vaccination status to PEOPLE.

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Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers points against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second quarter at the Wells Fargo Center on January 6, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers points against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second quarter at the Wells Fargo Center on January 6, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Mitchell Leff/Getty

Embiid missed nearly three weeks of play after contracting COVID and returned during the 76ers' game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, ending with 42 points and 14 rebounds despite the team falling 121-120 in double overtime.

"Honestly, I did not think I was going to play tonight," Embiid admitted after the team's loss, noting he struggled with his workout the night before the game. "To me, it's a miracle I played this many minutes."

Timberwolves forward Karl-Anthony Towns — who lost his mother and other family members to COVID — said he was "happy" that Embiid is doing better, despite the two having a previous feud.

"I told Embiid on the court; I am very happy that he's come to the other side with COVID," Towns told reporters after Saturday's game. "We've had our thing for a while, but that's bigger than basketball. That's bigger than what we have. I've seen it kill people, and I'm glad that he is on the other side. I am very, very happy that he's doing well and he's coming out on the other side and that he is healthy and he is getting himself back into basketball."

RELATED: 76ers All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons Out of NBA All-Star Game Due to COVID Contact Tracing

Earlier this year, Embiid also missed the NBA All-Star Game — alongside teammate Ben Simmons — in March after he came in contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID before traveling to Atlanta for the annual event.

Embiid and the 76ers currently have a 10-10 record and are set to play the Orlando Magic on Monday.

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