Zhaire Smith should have known that once he became the rookie the Philadelphia 76ers left draft night with, an injury was in his not-so-distant future.
And now, less than two months after he entered the league, Smith has suffered a fractured left foot while taking part in a development camp in Las Vegas, which will require surgery later this week, according to Yahoo Sports.
This is nothing new for the Sixers, who have lost one of their rookies for a prolonged period due to injury every year since 2013.
First it was Nerlens Noel, who, after being drafted sixth overall in 2013, missed the entire season to recover from knee surgery.
Then Joel Embiid missed not only his first year after being drafted third overall in 2014, but the following year too with a foot issue.
Ben Simmons continued the trend with a foot injury of his own to sit out all of 2016-17 after being drafted first overall.
Last year’s situation with Markelle Fultz, however, was by far the weirdest as a puzzling shoulder problem kept the first overall selection sidelined the first 68 games and altered his shooting form.
Of all the curses in sports, the voodoo on 76ers rookie is one of the most inexplicable. A lengthy title drought is considered a hex for many franchises, but winning a championship is extremely difficult and is often helped by luck.
Rookies getting injured every year in a mysterious manner during the offseason and then missing most, if not all of the season? That’s just too specific and improbable to be chalked up as a coincidence.
Smith nearly avoided this fate when he was drafted by the Phoenix Suns with 16th overall pick in this year’s draft, but was later traded to the Sixers for Mikal Bridges.
It’s unclear how long Smith will be out of action, but the injury is substantial enough that it continues Philadelphia’s terrible injury luck another year.
LeBron James nearly became a statistic as a dropout during his childhood. Instead, he went on to put up gaudy statistics in the NBA.
Now that he has the means to help keep kids from a similar pitfall, he’s doing everything he can.
On Monday, LeBron opened up the I Promise School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio – an elementary school for 240 at-risk students.
The school is initially beginning with third and and fourth grade, and has a longer school day and longer school year than the normal public school to accelerate its students’ development.
The list of what the school offers is long and meaningful: free tuition; free uniforms; free transportation within two miles; free breakfast, lunch and snacks; college tuition for every graduating student; food pantry for families; GEDs and job placement services for parents; and a free bicycle and helmet.
There’s nothing half-way about the initiative. It isn’t a charter school – it’s a public school that’s partnered with the Akron Public Schools system, meaning it has structure and a curriculum that meets educational standards.
A dream come true for LeBron James and his foundation: The I Promise School for at-risk students in Akron opens today with plan to transform lives of students and parents:https://t.co/fxTrCaueBM pic.twitter.com/D27di415k8— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) July 30, 2018
James didn’t have to do this. Physically, obviously. No one was forcing him. But he didn’t have to do it to have a positive impact off the court. He’s already done that as one of the most socially-aware superstars in sport.
From speaking out against social injustice, to paying for kids to attend college, to openly denouncing United States President Donald Trump, LeBron has been nothing short of a role model.
But he opened up this school anyways because he truly believes in the importance of what he’s doing. By investing in children and their future, James is proving that as great of a basketball player as he is – and he may be the best ever – he’s an even better human being.
The school is also a reminder that regardless of where LeBron is playing and no matter how Hollywood he gets, his heart will always be in Akron.
The championship he delivered to Cleveland and Ohio two years ago is the single greatest sporting achievement the region has ever seen, but his contributions to the community were never limited to a title and never will be.
Legacy is a word that’s tossed around plenty when LeBron’s name comes up, as is the case with other great athletes. But as passionately we discuss his standing in the history of basketball, we’ll never have to question his reputation as a person.
It doesn’t matter if it’s 10, 20 or 50 years down the road – even at this very moment, that’s more important than anything else.
Speaking at the opening of his I Promise School in Akron, Ohio on Monday, James discussed his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Lakers this summer and his aspirations for the season.
“We don’t have any (expectations) right now, but we’re definitely going to be better than we were the previous year,” James said.
See what else LeBron had to say in the video below.