Charles Barley admitted he was “fat and lazy” when he first arrived on the NBA scene as a player in 1984. Now he’s calling out Sixers big man Joel Embiid and asking him not to fall into the same trap.
In an appearance on ESPN’s “Get Up” with co-hosts Jalen Rose and Mike Greenberg, the former Sixers forward gave a no-holds-barred assessment of Embiid and Ben Simmons and what they need to do for the Philadelphia 76ers to contend in the Eastern Conference. Barkley, never one to bite his tongue or care about insulting people’s feelings, explained the Sixers are the “clear cut favorites in the Eastern Conference” but he doled out one huge caveat: Embiid and Simmons both need to improve their games. Barkley clarified by saying that Embiid needs to get his “fat butt” in shape, while Simmons has to work on his jump shot.
“I thought the addition, of going out and getting Al Horford, and I think Tobias Harris is going to be terrific there,” Barkley told ESPN. “But let me tell you something, it’s going to come down to Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. At some point, them two young players who are both terrific young players. I want to repeat that, two terrific young players, but Joel Embiid has to get his fat butt in shape. And Ben Simmons has got to work on his game.”
Barkley, who spent eight seasons in Philadelphia, relayed a story about how Hall of Fame center Moses Malone cracked the whip on him during his rookie year. The Sixers drafted the “Round Mound of Rebound” with the fifth pick in the 1984 draft, but he was admittedly overweight at 300 pounds and Malone called him out on the carpet about it.
“When I got to Philadelphia in 1984, the most important person in my life, basketball-wise, said to me ‘You fat and you lazy’ and I said, ‘What do you mean?'”, Barkley told ESPN. “Moses Malone said, ‘You fat and you lazy’ and he made me lose 50 pounds and the rest is history. I wonder in Philadelphia who has the courage to and the hoodzpah to tell Joel Embiid, ‘Yo man, you gotta to get in shape.’ I wonder if they have that person on the team or the person who has to tell Ben Simmons, ‘Yo man we just gave you a $170 million, can you please work on your jump shot.'”
Barkley ended his brutally honest take by reiterating that he still thought the Sixers were the favorites in the Eastern Conference.
“If those two guys improve their game, the Philadelphia 76ers, to me, are the clear favorites in the Eastern Conference,” Barkley said.
Sixers ‘Clear-Cut Favorites’ to Win the Eastern Conference
Simmons was the talk of Philadelphia on Monday after news broke of him agreeing on a five year, $170 million contract with the Sixers. It’s been a busy offseason for the team after they signed swingman Tobias Harris to a five-year, $180 million deal — the richest in franchise history — and added big man Al Horford on a four-year, $109 million contract.
The expectations are extremely high among Sixers fans, perhaps even higher with the guys on the roster. James Ennis recently bragged about how the team would “walk” through the Eastern Conference with Kawhi Leonard out in Los Angeles, exiled from the Eastern Conference. The reserve swingman signed a two-year offer for $4.1 million to remain in Philadelphia and spurned more lucrative offers from other teams, according to the Inquirer’s Keith Pompey. Why? Because he believes the Sixers can win now. Right now.
“Because it’s a good team, and a good chance of winning,” Ennis told Pompey. “The East is going to be wide open. We had a good chance last year. Kawhi is gone. He went to the West. So we are going to walk to the Finals in the East.”