Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid fighting through Bell’s palsy amid NBA playoffs

Joel Embiid, star center for the Philadelphia 76ers, revealed on Thursday that he has been battling through a Bell’s Palsy diagnosis for the past 10 days, playing through the diagnosis as the Sixers feel their backs against the wall.

Embiid shared the news of his condition with the media after Game 3’s 125-113 win by Philly.

Bell’s Palsy leads to partial paralysis of the face. In Embiid’s case, the left side of his face has been affecting him during the ongoing series against the New York Knicks. The reigning MVP scored 50 points in Game 3, a playoff record total for Embiid, to help keep Philly alive in the series. There is no set timeline on a recovery for Embiid.

Joel Embiid looks on during a game

Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on during the first quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Wells Fargo Center on April 02, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

As part of sharing his diagnosis, Embiid noted that he’s seeking treatment but will be muscling through the nagging condition these playoffs.

“My body was just, I was just not feeling it,” Embiid said when first identifying the symptoms.


Embiid still struggles with migraines and rapid dryness in his left eye.

Draymond Green guards Joel Embiid

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) looks to pass around Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024, in San Francisco.  (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)

Fans noticed the slight stiffness on Embiid’s face during Monday’s Game 2 broadcast. Embiid appeared startled during a free throw attempt when his left eye could not blink in tandem with his right eye.


“Yes, it’s pretty annoying. My left side of my face, my mouth and my eye. It’s been tough. But I’m not a quitter. I’m going to keep fighting through anything. It’s unfortunate, that’s the way I look at it. But it’s not an excuse. I’ve got to keep pushing.”

Joel Embiid shoots

Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers shoots over Precious Achiuwa #5 of the Toronto Raptors during the third quarter at the Wells Fargo Center on December 22, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Embiid first noticed symptoms on April 17 after facing the Miami Heat in the play-in tournament. In this series, the center has worn glasses in postgame interviews, which Embiid admitted was due to the partial paralysis in his face.

“It hasn’t really necessarily gotten better,” Embiid added. “With the conversations that I’ve had, it could be weeks, it could be months.

“I just hope that it stays like this. I’ve got a beautiful face. I don’t like when my mouth is looking the other way. Unfortunate situation but everything happens for a reason.”

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