Sixers' Joel Embiid wins NBA Community Cares Assist Award for March

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Noah Levick
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Embiid honored for immense off-court contributions originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Even when no fans were permitted to attend his 50-point performance in February, Joel Embiid was thinking about the city outside of Wells Fargo Center.

“Fans are always there for me when I play, and I always mention that,” he said. “Playing in Philly, I have a lot of pride, and I play for the fans and I play for the city. All my goals when it comes to basketball are related to the city of Philadelphia. I always feel like they’re here with us, even though they’re not. I always feel their presence.”

His connection with the city is not limited exclusively to amusing celebrations and MVP chants. 

The NBA announced on Monday that Embiid won the NBA Cares Community Assist Award for the month of March.

After being selected as an All-Star in February, Embiid donated $100,000 to Youth Services Inc., Project HOME and Sunday Breakfast Mission, local organizations that serve homeless individuals. 

Embiid partnered with the Sixers and GIANT last December to provide five Philadelphia-area families with gifts, groceries and financial assistance on rent or mortgage payments.

During the NBA’s hiatus, Embiid pledged $500,000 to COVID-19 relief efforts. He also joined Sixers managing partner Josh Harris and co-managing partner David Blitzer in a $1.3 million donation to Penn Medicine to develop COVID-19 antibody testing for frontline healthcare workers. 

It doesn’t fall strictly under the charitable umbrella but it’s also notable that, when the Sixers were planning to institute salary cuts for some full-time employees, Embiid was prepared to help those who’d suffer from the cuts. The team then reversed course, paying employees their full salaries. 

The NBA will donate $10,000 to Covenant House Pennsylvania, which serves homeless youth.

“It’s a huge honor to receive the NBA Cares Community Assist Award,” Embiid said in a press release. “Giving back and using the platform I have to create positive change in the city I love has always been important to me. Covenant House Pennsylvania is doing amazing work, and they are an incredibly deserving recipient of this $10,000 donation. I will continue to give back to those in my community who are less fortunate and I look forward to delivering a championship to Philadelphia and the best fans in the world.” 

A season-long Community Cares Assist Winner will be announced after the regular season. Embiid’s teammate George Hill was one of five end-of-season winners for the 2019-20 campaign.