Joel Embiid falls because of doctor’s orders

Falling is an art form. Martial arts classes teach participants how to fall correctly. Parents even instruct their klutzy children on how to fall.

One could point to Philadephia 76ers star Joel Embiid to teach a lesson on it, seeing as he’s one of the most likely NBA players to be found on the floor. Turns out, the reason why he falls more than almost anyone else is a smart one.

Embiid falls to protect his body

ESPN’s Chris Herring posed the question about Embiid’s falls and crunched the data. Per Herring’s count, Embiid falls an average of 3.3 times per game, amounting to once every 10 minutes he’s on the floor. Outside of James Harden, commonly viewed as the ultimate flopper, he falls the most in the league.

Embiid cleared it up with a smile for Herring. Via ESPN:

“It was something I learned during my rehab when I was going through the foot injury, when I was trying to find ways to limit the impact on my body in 2014,” he says. “I was told that every time I feel like I’m in a situation where it’s going to be some type of extreme [weight] on my leg, I’ve got to dive or just roll onto the floor. So that’s why I do it.”

Embiid missed his first two seasons due to a foot injury after the Sixers drafted him in 2014. He suffered a stress fracture in the navicular bone in his right foot prior to the draft, dropping him from the No. 1 overall pick. A year later he had a setback and in June 2015 underwent a bone-graft procedure on the same foot.

His answer lines up with the numbers: Embiid falls nearly twice as frequently in the NBA as he did at Kansas, per Herring.

Art of the safe fall

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid falls for medical reasons. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)


A foot or leg injury can happen at any time and it can end a season.

Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant suffered a non-contact injury this week after a jump shot. Initially feared to be an Achilles injury, an MRI showed a mild calf strain and he’ll miss the rest of the series against the Houston Rockets.

Breanna Stewart underwent surgery for an Achilles injury last month after landing on an opponent’s foot following a jump shot. She’ll miss the entire WNBA season.

Embiid relies a lot on a “break fall,” a controlled fall used in martial arts in which most of the impact is absorbed by the arms or legs.

The “right way” to fall is to protect the head, take the hit on the fleshiest part of the body and avoid extending the hands, which can lead to injured wrists.

Embiid goes about falling the right way most of the time, but it still causes a scare.

Sixers head coach Brett Brown told ESPN:

“Remember when you’d take your kid to the playground, and they’d fall from a swing? And it’s always like, ‘Oh!’ It’s the same way with me for him. Every single time.”

76ers force Game 7 vs. Raptors

Embiid has at least one more game to show off his falls this season as the 76ers forced a Game 7 against the Toronto Raptors on Thursday night. Embiid had a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds.

The two-time All-Star missed a large chunk of time this season with knee injuries that have kept him questionable for games throughout the playoffs (along with a postseason stomach illness). He’s averaging a team-high 20.1 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game in the playoffs.

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