Joel Embiid thought he was not going to overcome COVID-19 to play in Saturday's 121-120 double over-time defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves yet he returned with 42 points.
Embiid had missed nine games after testing positive to COVID-19 on November 8 but dominated with 42 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and two blocks upon his return on Saturday.
In Embiid's absence, the 76ers struggled with a 2-7 record, with their latest defeat leaving them 10-10.
The 27-year-old center helped the 76ers haul in a 20-point deficit against the Timberwolves and had a chance to win the game in double over-time but failed to get a shot away under pressure from Anthony Edwards.
The defeat overshadowed Embiid's return, yet he revealed the severity of his COVID-19 experience post-game including breathing difficulties and headaches, making his 42-point haul all the more remarkable.
"It hasn’t been good," Embiid told reporters. "That jawn hit me hard.
"I really thought I wasn’t going to make it [to play against the Timberwolves]. It was that bad. I'm just thankful to be sitting here. I'm just glad I got over it."
Embiid averaged 28.5 points and 10.6 rebounds last season, when he was runner-up for MVP honours to Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic.
The 76ers center is averaging 23.5 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game in the 2021-22 season.
STEP BACK, EMVPIID. pic.twitter.com/GUcGnaIn4Q— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) November 28, 2021