After the All-Star draft but before the Sixers played the Bucks in Milwaukee, Ernie Johnson asked his crew about the Sixers’ deadline moves. Before Ernie could even finish, Sir Charles Barkley had to voice his frustration. Barkley picked the Sixers to make the NBA Finals during the preseason, the team is nowhere near that prediction. Ignoring the question entirely, Barkley labeled the Sixers the “Softest, mentally weakest team that had a bunch of talent”. A former Sixer himself, Barkley was clearly disappointed in the once-proud franchise.
Barkley also called the Sixers the Cleveland Browns of the NBA. He did not say that to mean that they are a wayward organization that commit faux pas one after another (though that is not far from the truth). When Barkley referred to the Sixers as the Browns of the NBA, he was speaking about the 2019-2020 Browns. The team that talked about how good they were, that had the talent but also a team full of “mentally and physically weak” players.
Barkley spoke about the difference between playing home or away and how it’s easy to win when the crowd has your back. When you have opposing fans tearing you down the game becomes that much more difficult; that’s where mental strength comes in. The Sixers have not done anything to prove Barkley’s words wrong. Though they were hash, there was a lot of truth in what Barkley had to say. Shaq took a more reserved approach.
Shaq claimed to be at the Super Bowl with Simmons and Embiid, claiming to have sat directly between them. According to him, he told the two young stars that they need to get it together, no excuses. Shaq went on to say that you don’t need to be “best friends” off the court to win. He did continue by saying “but on the court the court you got to show respect”.
Shaq raises a valuable point, Simmons and Embiid don’t need to be best friends, but they need to respect each other especially on the court. If anyone would have knowledge of this type of situation, it’s Shaq. For years Shaq and Kobe butted heads due to their egos. They were able to win three NBA Championships together but they just couldn’t work together any longer. Who knows how many more Championships the Lakers could have one if they retained Shaq; the world will never know.
Simmons and Embiid need to figure this out before it’s too late. They are wasting each other’s time because of their selfishness. That’s not to say that all of the issues are due to Simmons and Embiid, but they are the superstars, they are the leaders. The team can’t expect this type of behavior from anyone for much longer. Hopefully, the team can rally together as the season winds down to unlock their full potential.
Lead Philadelphia 76ers writer for Philly Sports Network. Follow me on Twitter @ZCiavoPSN and follow the rest of our team for more quality content.
“The key to success is to keep growing in all areas of life – mental, emotional, spiritual, as well as physical” – DR. J