Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid was listed as questionable for tonight’s game against the Pacers due to lingering tightness in his back. Despite signs before the game that he was not feeling 100 percent, he played anyways, and the initial returns weren’t great. Embiid started the game 0-for-3 from the field and came off just six minutes into the game to sit on a foam roller. In the halftime edition of Inside the NBA, Charles Barkley vented his feelings about how the team handled its injured superstar.
Here’s a transcription of some of Barkley’s rant:
“Let me just say this about the Philadelphia 76ers: they’ve got to be the stupidest organization in the history of sports. You’ve got a franchise player who’s got a bad back, who’s injury-prone. He can barely walk and you’ve got him out there playing in a regular season game. You have to be the stupidest organization...”
“You gave the guy $150 million. He’s got a bad back. He’s clearly laboring. Why would you play him?”
Barkley did get a little bit of pushback from Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith, who both tried to argue that players shouldn’t avoid playing if they’re a little hurt. In return, however, Barkley suggested that the Sixers should have done more to stop Embiid from playing in tonight’s game, especially given his history of injury issues. He cited the fact that there were games during his own career that he shouldn’t have played in because of injury as an example why NBA franchises need to do a better job protecting their players from “their own stupidity”—something that Smith ended up agreeing with.
While Embiid didn’t end his night hobbling off the court, Barkley ended up having a justified assessment of the situation. Sure, the Philadelphia center finished with 22 points (9-for-19 shooting), 13 rebounds, eight assists and three blocks against the Pacers, but with a 24-point margin of victory, it’s hard to argue that the big man’s efforts warranted potentially re-aggravating an injury.
Of course, the real highlight of that clip was Shaq using the topic of injuries to shamelessly suggest that Embiid rub some Icy Hot on his back.