Brett Brown: Joel Embiid Determined To Do Everything He Has To

Former Cleveland Cavaliers big man Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who went through the same injury as Joel Embiid, was a guest of the 76ers to pay visit to Embiid.

Sixers center Joel Embiid talks to general manager Sam Hinkie before a game earlier this season | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Sixers center Joel Embiid talks to general manager Sam Hinkie before a game earlier this season | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Sixers head coach Brett Brown gave a brief update on Joel Embiid‘s progress as he works to return from a second surgery on his injured navicular bone.

“He’s doing great,” Brown said before the Sixers took on the Indiana Pacers tonight at the Wells Fargo Center. “Most importantly, he’s doing fantastic in his mind. He is so determined to do everything that he has to, everything that people are telling him that he has to do to get it right.

“There is a real progression in his maturity and his seriousness,” Brown continued.

Embiid’s maturity and willingness to follow direction came into question at times last year during his recovery from the initial injury. It was then announced last June that Embiid had suffered a setback, with a second procedure ultimately being performed in August.

Embiid was joined by Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who was at the game as a guest of the team.

Like Embiid, Ilgauskas had numerous surgeries to repair navicular bone injuries early on in his career, including a bone graft procedure similar to the one Embiid had this past summer. Ilgauskas is frequently cited as the success story for big men with navicular injuries, as he returned to play ten healthy seasons after foot injuries caused Ilgauskas to miss over 200 games early on in his career.

Outside of having experienced similar trials and tribulations early on in his career with the navicular injuries, Brown also thought the Lithuanian-born Ilgauskas provided a good mentor for Embiid because he came over to the United States to play basketball.

“The [Ilgauskas] visit is just another layer for the organization to do things a little bit differently, to really try to improve our approach,” Brown continued.

This is the second time Ilgauskas has visited Embiid.

The connection with Ilgauskas stems from Danny Ferry. Brown had worked with Ferry in San Antonio, first with Ferry as a player then his eventual transition into a management role within the organization. Ferry then became the general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers, where Ilgauskas played.

“A few months ago Danny Ferry helped me with reaching Zydrunas. I reached out to him and now it’s continued on,” Brown said.

Another big player in Embiid’s recovery this time around is David Martin,  formerly of the Australian Institute of Sport, who was hired by the Sixers over the summer as the Director of Performance Research and Development.

“David Martin has done a fantastic job of overseeing this whole thing,” Brown said. “It’s probably the #1 part of his job right now is overseeing Joel’s recovery.”