Sixers’ Joel Embiid on case of Bell’s palsy: ‘It’s unfortunate’

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Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid has been dealing with a case of Bell’s palsy affecting the left side of his face, mouth and eye for more than a week, the reigning NBA MVP confirmed after Thursday night’s playoff game.

Bell’s palsy is “an unexplained episode of facial muscle weakness or paralysis,” according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. It “results from damage to the facial nerve,” and there is currently no known cure. Embiid said he has been getting migraines and began experiencing the symptoms shortly before the Sixers’ Play-In Tournament game last Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls.

“I got migraines and thought it was nothing, but usually I like to check it out,” Embiid said of the initial symptoms in a news conference after Thursday’s 125-114 playoff victory over the New York Knicks. “… It’s pretty annoying with my left side of my face, my mouth and my eye. So, yeah, it’s been tough but I’m not a quitter. Gotta keep fighting, doing your thing. But it’s unfortunate, that’s the way I look at it, but that’s not an excuse. Gotta keep pushing.”

Embiid said the symptoms have persisted.

“It could be weeks. It could be months. I just hope it stays like this,” Embiid said. “I got a beautiful face. I don’t like when my mouth is looking like this.”

Embiid missed two months of the regular season due to a torn meniscus but returned in early April as the Sixers fought for postseason positioning in the Eastern Conference. After scoring 29 points and 34 points in the Sixers’ first two games of their best-of-seven series against the Knicks, Embiid scored 50 points in Thursday’s Game 3. Philadelphia now trails the series 2-1, with Game 4 set for Sunday afternoon.

ESPN first reported that Embiid was dealing with the condition.

(Photo of Joel Embiid: Bill Streicher / USA Today)

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