Shaq and Barkley savage ‘soft’ and 'mentally weak' 76ers
LIFE is pretty tough in Philadelphia at the moment with rumours running wild over discontent in the locker room.
Reports that stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are at odds, as both men want to run the 76ers' offence, has led to the side dropping four straight and sitting well back in the Eastern Conference, which they were expected to dominate.
While fans will be hoping for an All-Star break reset and for Philly to bring back the winning feeling, it seems a long way off.
After their latest loss, a reasonably flattering 112-101 loss to league-leading Milkwaukee Bucks, the cracks have become painfully obvious.
It doesn't usually take much for legends to weigh in on the Sixers, but on TNT before the match, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal were in savage agreement over the horrific performance of the Sixers in recent times, with their season record dropping to 31-21.
"I picked the Sixers to make the finals," Barkley began. "They are the softest, mentally weakest team that has a bunch of talent. They are the Cleveland Browns of the NBA."
Shaq responded with "damn".
Barkley continued: "They've got a lot of talent and they talk the talk and that's it.
"Last summer, and I feel for it too because our boss is Steve Fiorello, he had me on the Cleveland Browns' bandwagon.
"They came out and told everybody how good they were going to be. Then they got punched in the mouth in game one and punched in the mouth for the rest of the season.
"The Philadelphia 76ers, my preseason pick to get to the finals, they just talk. They are weak mentally and physically.
"This team right here, they've got too many talented players to be 25-0 at home and 2-25 on the road. That tells me they're not tough mentally."
Ouch - tell us what you really think.
O'Neal chimed in with some personal experience.
After not particularly getting on with Kobe Bryant in LA, the pair claimed three back-to-back titles together, a pairing Simmons and Embiid might need to emulate.
"I was at the Super Bowl with Ben and Joel, sitting right in between them and I said, 'Y'all need to get it together. I don't want to hear no excuses about the coaches, I don't want to hear nothing about you two, I don't want to hear that, y'all need to get it together," O'Neal said.
"All that stuff about you got to be best friends, it's been proven you do not have to be best friends off the court, but on the court, you've got to show respect and you got to play and you got to play.
"I'm not going to say they're soft. They have disappointed us a bit but I'm not going to call them soft. If they get it together, they can turn it around."
As if it couldn't get any worse for the 76ers, reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo tore Philly apart on Friday (AEST), moving top-placed Milwaukee seven games ahead of the second-placed Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference.
The Greek Freak nailed 36 points, 20 rebounds and six assists, and also became the first player since Wilt Chamberlain to have five straight games of 30 points, 15 rebounds and five assists.
He celebrated with a dunk that had fans going nuts.
Giannis that’s just stupid— Carmichael Dave (@CarmichaelDave) February 7, 2020
OMFG GIANNIS— spread love (@mickjenkins) February 7, 2020
Simmons and Embiid combined for just 30 points.
With the 76ers down 54-51 at half-time, Embiid was struggling, shooting one from 10. He finished the game with six from 26 from the field, easily the worst shooting percentage, 23.1 per cent, from the field.
At half-time, Barkley and O'Neal got into it again.
And Shaq relented on not using the word "soft".
"The difference between Giannis and Embiid is force - Giannis is playing with force and Embiid is playing S O F capital T," Shaq said.
"At the other end, he's not playing with force. He's looking for the foul, he has that little band-aid on his little hand, waiting for the ref to call a foul.
"He don't call the foul, so he run back on defence like a little baby and he let this pass go. He is being SOF capital T."
Shaq pulled out the diagrams to show why Embiid is so soft pic.twitter.com/8Exx0vCiNB— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) February 7, 2020
😂 aside, @SHAQ is a tad harsh - maybe a little competitive with him, but he’s 100%.— Shae McNamara (@bigdyman) February 7, 2020
Embiid needs to reevaluate his standards, because the fee that he’s paying, isn’t good enough to be the superstar that he’s capable of!#UnbreakableMindset #PathToBrilliance 💎💪 https://t.co/aj64vyzHlF
Shaq going innnnnnn on Embiid to start this halftime show.— Kaitlin Sharkey (@KRoseSharkey) February 7, 2020
While Shaq was whacked for his take, the legend said it was only Embiid's fault.
Barkley piped up again, saying both Simmons and Embiid were the problem.
"The Sixers' biggest problem is that they don't have a leader," Barkley began.
"When I got to the NBA, I was fat and lazy and I thank god I met Moses Malone.
"I said, 'Why am I not getting to play?' He said 'you're fat and lazy'. He made me lose 50 pounds to get in shape.
"We've given these guys so much to play in the NBA. When you give a guy $160 million, they must be thinking, 'They think I'm great. I must be really really good, I don't have to work on my game.'
"They gave Ben Simmons $170 million and for the past two summers they've said, 'Ben's been working on his jump shot. I haven't seen that. The notion that the Sixers have the sixth-best record in the Eastern Conference is a joke."
Barkley said it was tough to see, as the 76ers and the Suns were the two teams he played for.
Former NBA star Kenny Smith chipped in, saying: "Talent-wise if you put what Ben Simmons and Embiid can do, they can match what Giannis can do."
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