Joel Embiid agrees with criticism from Shaq, Charles Barkley
Joel Embiid put up a monster performance on Thursday night, and he admitted after the game that he was motivated by some criticism from the TNT crew.
On Tuesday, Embiid’s Philadelphia 76ers beat the Denver Nuggets 97-92. Embiid had 22 points and 10 rebounds, which are nice stats, but nothing special for him. The game before, in a win over Toronto, Embiid had just 10 points and eight rebounds.
Watching Embiid play well Tuesday but not thoroughly dominate led TNT analysts Charles Barkley and Shaq to say they wanted to see more out of the Sixers big man. Barkley said it was “frustrating” to not see Embiid live up to his potential. Shaq said that Embiid was not playing hard enough. Both analysts framed their criticism in the context of believing Embiid can be one of the greatest players in the league.
Embiid was asked Thursday about the comments from the analysts and said he agreed.
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) December 12, 2019
Embiid went out and had 38 points with 13 rebounds in a 115-109 win over Boston on Thursday. He admitted after the game that the comments from Barkley and Shaq played a role in his big game.
“Obviously those guys are great, they’re Hall of Famers. When you got guys like that telling you that they trust you, that I can be great, I take it to heart,” Embiid told TNT in a postgame interview. “I understand where they’re coming from. I know I have that potential, but I haven’t shown that especially this season. So I took it and wanted to come out and be better.
“I appreciate whatever they said. I think it played a part in what I did tonight.”
Embiid seems to be caught in a difficult place. He says the emphasis from the team has been for him to balance the desire to play hard every night with the more important goal of being healthy for the postseason. He also is trying to blend with a team that includes some new teammates.
Philly is now 19-7, and Embiid showed he can bring out his best when he wants to. He’s also showing that he’s handling the criticism from Barkley and Shaq better now, especially after they were on him during the playoffs last season.