Don’t expect former NBA guard and current ESPN commentator Bruce Bowen to speak to the 76ers under their new head coach. Bowen, who got in a confrontation with Joel Embiid while addressing the Sixers in December 2018, soundly criticized Embiid again Tuesday in comments on ESPN.
Known for his defensive toughness, Bowen played for the San Antonio Spurs from 2001 through 2009 and won championships in 2003, 2005 and 2007. Brett Brown, who was fired as the Sixers coach on Monday, was on the Spurs coaching staff during those championship seasons.
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Bowen pulled no punches Tuesday, blaming Embiid for Brown’s firing.
“I’m going to stand up for my guy Brett Brown right now, and I feel like if he would have had a vested superstar in Joel Embiid, things wouldn’t be this way,” Bowen said. “Somebody that takes ownership of the fact that you are the go-to guy on that team, that comes into camp in shape, that understands that he has to make others better. That is why he is a max [contract] player.”
“I think the accountability is not being placed where it should be and we need to start holding superstars accountable to being better players on the floor,” Bowen said.
General manager Elton Brand responded to Bowen’s comments during Tuesday’s Zoom press conference to discuss Brown’s dismissal.
“Regarding Bruce Bowen, I really don’t know what he’s talking about,” Brand said. “Usually when you’re asked to speak at a meeting from the team, you don’t go and talk about it on ESPN, so I’m sure he won’t be invited back to any of my meetings.”
On Dec. 17, 2018, Brown asked Bowen to speak to the team before a game in San Antonio. As The Inquirer reported, that speech didn’t go too well. According to the account, Embiid took umbrage at Bowen’s remarks. At one point, according to the report, Bowen said, “I ain’t scared of you,” three times while walking toward Embiid.
Bowen spoke of that encounter during his ESPN session on Tuesday. Bowen said he told the Sixers to stay out of the media and stop tweeting so much, something that Embiid was frequently doing at that time.
“Do you know the one individual who had a problem with the whole meeting was Joel Embiid because he felt like he was being chastised for the things that he had been saying,” Bowen said.
Brand was asked whether Embiid has to be more accountable.
“Joel Embiid is growing as a player and as a person, and I think he’s in the right spot,” Brand said. “The way he led during this restart and in this bubble; now, you don’t get to see the behind-the-scenes, but he was at every meeting, he was spearheading team events and he was pushing to be a lot better. He wants to win and he wants to be in Philadelphia.”
During that same press conference, Brand said he isn’t looking to trade Embiid or two-time All-Star Ben Simmons.
Embiid, who averaged 30 points and 12.3 rebounds in 36.3 minutes during the Celtics’ sweep, has been criticized by Bowen and others for being out of shape.