Michael Kidd-Gilchrist insists he won't change his unyielding style of play despite the mounting injuries.
The Charlotte Hornets small forward, who hails from Somerdale, Camden County, was rushed to a New York hospital with a rib contusion after being knocked to the Madison Square Garden floor while battling for a loose ball against the New York Knicks on Nov. 2. That incident sidelined Kidd-Gilchrist for two games.
On Dec. 10, he returned after missing 12 games with a stress reaction in his right foot.
And that's only part of his injury story.
The 6-foot-7, 232-pounder missed six weeks last season with a broken hand. But the scariest incident occurred during his rookie season of 2012-13.
That's when he collided with teammate Jeff Taylor and left the court on a stretcher in the fourth quarter of a loss at the Houston Rockets. Kidd-Gilchrist was fitted with a neck brace and taken to the hospital for X-rays and a CT scan. He missed the next two games with a concussion.
"He's just so all-out," said Hornets coach Steve Clifford, whose squad faced the 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center Friday night. "I just think he's just so hard playing that he's always throwing his body around."
As the second overall pick in 2012, the 21-year-old takes an unusual approach to the game. His give-up-his-body-at-all-costs style is usually reserved for undrafted free agents who need to do anything to stick in the NBA.
"That's how I always played, man," said Kidd-Gilchrist, who left Kentucky after one season. "I'm just playing to win.
"You know me. You know where I came from. I'm just playing to win at the end of the day."
The former McDonald's all-American at St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth, N.J., isn't getting any complaints from the Hornets.
He took averages of 8.9 points and 5.3 rebounds in just 23 minutes into the matchup with his hometown Sixers. It was just his sixth game back - third in the starting lineup - following his foot injury.
His season-high point total is 17. Kidd-Gilchrist improved his shot by working tirelessly with assistant coach Mark Price this past summer. However, he's known more for his defense, constantly being assigned the opposing team's best wing player.
"My goal is to get the NBA most improved player [award] and make the all-defensive team," said Kidd-Gilchrist, who is shooting a career-best 50 percent from the field.
If there were an award for best teammate, Clifford believes Kidd-Gilchrist would win it.
"You know what, he's as team-first as you are going to find in anybody on any level," the coach said. "He truly, truly cares about his teammates. He cares about the team. And he cares about winning.
"So he's a great team person. He's got great athletic character."