Joel Embiid Seems to Have Taken Charles Barkley’s Advice
The last few days haven't been easy for Philadelphia 76ers' center, Joel Embiid. Over the weekend, the Sixers' All-Star woke up on Sunday morning feeling sick to the point where he had to get an IV placed in his arm, and texted his head coach, Brett Brown about his well-being. Although Embiid was off of the injury report, the Sixers' center almost ended up missing the critical Game 4 matchup at home.
Embiid ended up playing, but he didn't exactly play well. He scored his career-low of 11 points in the postseason. As it was a little over a week since Embiid was dealing with stomach issues, everybody was surprised to find out that he had an upper respiratory infection for Game 4. The Sixers were hopeful his status would be better on Tuesday, but that wasn't the case. Embiid missed the teams' shootaround in the early afternoon, as he rested back at the team hotel.
There wasn't a chance Embiid was going to miss the critical Game 5 matchup, but once again his body language wasn't promising from the moment he stepped foot into the arena. With his hoodie on and his head down, Embiid looked as bad as he played in the previous matchup. The Sixers remained optimistic about their big man's health, but they might've trusted him a little too much. Embiid looked rough, and his stats for Game 5 really backed that claim. Eight turnovers and 13 points sure made it seem like Embiid was better off sitting out, than playing.
Despite being sick, some NBA Legends and analysts weren't too kind when discussing Embiid's actions and body language. During the halftime show on Tuesday nights broadcast, Charles Barkley had some warranted criticism for the Sixers' leading center. “He walks around like he’s on his deathbed. He drains the energy out of that team. As a star player, you can never show weakness.” It seems as though that message got to Embiid as the seven-footer entered the arena on Thursday night with an entirely new attitude.
With the series on the line, Embiid is going to have to pull out all of the tricks to keep the Sixers alive. Knowing just how important he is to the team, Embiid seems to understand that his role in Philly is much more than just blocking shots and scoring baskets. He's got to uplift everybody, and put on a smile, even if he isn't feeling one-hundred percent. That comes with the role of being the leader.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for South Jersey's 97.3 ESPN. You can follow Justin on Twitter: @JGrasso_