Shaquille O’Neal had to get something off his chest about the Philadelphia 76ers. The supposed dream duo of James Harden and Joel Embiid never materialized, not after Embiid suffered two major injuries in the playoffs and Harden hit the snooze button late in games. O’Neal watched it all and rolled his eyes.
Why? Because the 15-time All-Star had been told that Harden and Embiid were the new Kobe and Shaq. Nope, there will only be one Kobe and Shaq. That was a point that O’Neal needed to remind everyone about on Sunday as he vented on Instagram.
O’Neal wrote: “Remember when everyone was saying that Harden and Embiid was Kobe and Shaq? Don’t y’all ever say that again. Only one superduo ever created, yea I said it, ONLY ONE. Miss you kobe.”
Kendrick Perkins was the first person to anoint Harden and Embiid as the next Kobe and Shaq. His comment was sitting under O’Neal’s latest Instagram post to apologize for the “disrespect,” with Perkins adding another noteworthy quote: “That damn Harden.” Remember, Perkins appeared on ESPN’s “Get Up” show the day after Harden was traded to the Sixers to hype up what he thought would be the NBA’s next superduo.
“We’re looking at the next possible Kobe and Shaq, right? When you talk about elite scoring, prolific scoring, at the guard position, and inside with Joel Embiid,” Perkins said on February 11. “I don’t know what defense you could design to stop those two. And, look, when you talk about those two in the pick-and-roll, side pick-and-roll, and late-game situation, there’s not no one in the league that’s going to be able to stop them.”
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Kobe Bryant Predicted Harden’s Championship Failures
Kobe Bryant went on record back in 2019 saying that Harden’s style of play wouldn’t win a championship. It’s important to note that the Lakers legend was commenting on Harden during the middle of his historic scoring steak during his 2018 MVP campaign. He averaged 36.1 points per game that year for the Houston Rockets and had the ball in his hands all the time with Chris Paul out for a lengthy stretch. Bryant didn’t see any championships on the horizon with Harden playing like that.
“I’m not a fan [of Harden’s style of play] in terms of winning championships, I don’t think that style is ever going to win championships,” Bryant said on ESPN’s The Jump. “But at the same time, you have to keep your team’s head above water to win games, so you have to do what you have to do to win games. And he’s doing that.”
Joel Embiid Reflects on Disappointing Playoff Loss
Joel Embiid was asked to reflect on the future of the franchise after the Sixers’ 99-90 loss and elimination in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. He didn’t have any answers at the time, probably because the defeat was too fresh in his mind. He wasn’t even sure if Harden intended to opt in and stay in Philly.
“Obviously, there are a lot of decisions to be made over the summer,” Embiid said. “Obviously he’s got to re-sign for that to happen. I feel like, like every year, even last year losing to Atlanta, I felt like we were good enough to go further and to win it all. This year I feel the same.
“Maybe we didn’t have enough time all together to figure it out, maybe we just weren’t good enough but I feel pretty confident that … I feel confident that I’m going to get better and come back even better. And do everything possible to accomplish what I want.”
What he wants is a championship. That mission starts anew in September.