Joel Embiid gave Charles Barkley a look last night that had the entire crew of TNT’s Inside the NBA talking.
After Embiid (who was playing with a cold) dropped a season-high 39 points in the Sixers’ overtime win against the Brooklyn Nets Thursday night, the three-time All-Star was asked by TNT sideline reporter Allie LaForce if he had anything to say to Barkley, who celebrated his 57th birthday on Thursday. The backstory, of course, is that the former Sixers star turned TNT analyst has been highly critical of Embiid’s effort all season long season.
“Happy Birthday Charles, Sir Charles,” Embiid said before flashing a look that didn’t go unnoticed by Barkley’s Inside the NBA cohosts Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kenny Smith.
“That was very warm,” Johnson said sarcastically.
“I know what that face mean … I can’t say it to America,” Shaq said.
“I think he meant it at first,” Smith said of Embiid’s birthday wishes, “but then thought about it and said, ‘Why am I giving [him] this?’ ”
Barkley simply responded by saying, “I’m not sensitive.”
Barkley, who picked the Sixers to win the NBA title this year, has been critical of Embiid all season. Back in December, both Barkley and Shaq called out Embiid for not playing hard enough, comments that appeared to momentarily motivate the Sixers star.
Earlier this month, Barkley called the Sixers soft and compared the team to the outspoken underachievers on the 6-10 Cleveland Browns. During halftime of Thursday night’s game, after the Nets went on a 32-4 run, Barkley once again criticized the team’s lack of effort on the court.
“It’s so frustrating watching this team play,” Barkley said. “What you’re seeing here is one team that plays hard all the time, and one team that plays hard half the time — they want to turn it on and off, and you can’t do that in the big picture.”