Forget the fact the Sixers let a 21-point lead slip away Friday night in Denver. After the game, the real concern centered on the Sixers’ big man.
Joel Embiid had 19 points and 15 rebounds in 28 minutes during a 100-97 loss to the Nuggets. On paper, they look like decent enough numbers. But the hulking 7-footer looked rather lackadaisical running up and down the court in the second half, causing many to immediately question his physical conditioning.
In fact, Sixers head coach Brett Brown brought it up in his post-game remarks seemingly without prompting.
“We’re growing Joel’s fitness base and trying to continually move that forward where he can be Joel Embiid,” Brett Brown told reporters, via NBC Sports Philadelphia. “You know, tonight you can see that we’ve got some work to do.
“I think that he fought his heart out. I think that when we needed him, most times he was there. And we’re going to continue to just get him as healthy as we can and help put him in a position where he can be Joel Embiid.”
Nuggets center Nikola Jokic got the best of Embiid in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter. Jokic poured in 16 points in the final frame and helped complete the 21-point comeback. Embiid has now shot a combined 11-of-33 from the field since returning from a two-game suspension while committing 11 turnovers.
Charles Barkley Ripped Joel Embiid for Being ‘Lazy’
Sixers legend Charles Barkley let his opinions on Joel Embiid’s health clearly be known back in July. The Hall of Famer wasn’t mincing words.
In an appearance on ESPN’s “Get Up” with co-hosts Jalen Rose and Mike Greenberg, the Hall-of-Fame 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 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.’”