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Charles Barkley Drops the Hammer After NBA Star Complains About Criticism

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Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid has shown he’s able to dish it out but rarely able to take it when it comes to insults.

Embiid is a big reason the 76ers didn’t have a chance to close out the Toronto Raptors on their home floor in Game 6 on Thursday after his eight turnovers were the main factor in Toronto winning Game 5.

After that game Tuesday, Charles Barkley, dispenser of sage wisdom from his perch on the panel of TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” roasted Embiid.

“He’s walking by himself like he’s on his death bed,” Barkley said. “As a star player, you can never show weakness. You’ve got to keep the other guys involved in the game. That’s what he does. He complains so much about being sick, he drains the energy out of the room.”

Embiid, asked for his thoughts on Barkley’s critique, resorted to the shallow taunting that he usually reserves for talking about his real-estate dealings in the head of the Detroit Pistons’ Andre Drummond.

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Embiid said Barkley “doesn’t know what he’s talking about sometimes.”

While technically true — Barkley is infamous for pooh-poohing the analytics revolution that separates good teams from underachieving teams in today’s NBA — it’s not true in this instance.

When it comes to the difference between winning and losing in the intangible world of championship-caliber basketball, which the 1993 MVP knows plenty about — he was denied a championship more because he played in the same era as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan than because of any deficiency in his own game — players today would do better to listen to Sir Charles than try to argue with him.

Sure enough, when TNT got Game 7 on Sunday, he talked about Embiid’s response.

Do you agree with Charles Barkley?

“They never call on us and say, ‘Hey, thanks for the kind words and telling me how great a player I am.’ But when they play like crap and we call them out, we don’t know what we’re talking about,” Barkley said. “Listen, I’m easy to find. I’ve always said he’s a hell of a player. If he can stay healthy, he’s going to be one of the greatest ever. If he can stay healthy — the verdict’s still out on that.

“But I get sick of these guys complaining. These young guys, they never call us and say, when I bragged about him and Ben Simmons a few years ago saying they’re going to be the future of the NBA, he didn’t call and say, ‘Hey Charles, thanks for the kind words.’

“But I’m going to criticize guys if they deserve it, and listen, they can kiss my ass if they don’t like it.”

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Embiid, for his part, shot 6 of 18 from the field, scored 21 points and could only watch helplessly as Kawhi Leonard hit the first walk-off buzzer-beater in a Game 7 in the playoffs in NBA history.

If you haven’t seen that shot, just imagine the soaring sports-movie orchestral score from the Alan Silvestri or Bill Conti collection over the replay:

Embiid, eliminated from the playoffs, was reduced to a crying mess.

Granted, as Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz pointed out, there’s nothing wrong with crying after a loss — it’s a sign you cared enough to leave everything you had out on the court.

But for a guy whose bravado has always rung a little hollow, like he’s compensating for something, the schadenfreude at his comeuppance was perfectly encapsulated both by the fans and by the broadcasters who cover Embiid and the 76ers from day to day.

Or, if all that’s a bit too purple for your taste, “if you’re gonna talk the talk, you better walk the walk” — lest you get roasted on national TV.

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Boston born and raised, Fox has been writing about sports since 2011. He covered ESPN Friday Night Fights shows for The Boxing Tribune before shifting focus and launching Pace and Space, the home of "Smart NBA Talk for Smart NBA Fans", in 2015. He can often be found advocating for various NBA teams to pack up and move to his adopted hometown of Seattle.
Boston born and raised, Fox has been writing about sports since 2011. He covered ESPN Friday Night Fights shows for The Boxing Tribune before shifting focus and launching Pace and Space, the home of "Smart NBA Talk for Smart NBA Fans", in 2015. He can often be found advocating for various NBA teams to pack up and move to his adopted hometown of Seattle.
Birthplace
Boston, Massachusetts
Education
Bachelor of Science in Accounting from University of Nevada-Reno
Location
Seattle, Washington
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Sports




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