After a polite ”congrats to Nikola Jokić,” Joel Embiid proved that Charles Barkley was right for calling him out at halftime of last night's game. Sir Charles said it was obvious he was ”distracted about this MVP thing,” and Embiid's postgame conference confirmed it.
In a shocking turn of events, an NBA superstar blamed the media and used Bill Simmons' "f**k Jalen Green” moment as an example. Here's why that's extremely hypocritical from JoJo.
”Get your head out your ass”
Embiid spent 20 minutes on the floor in the first half and went to the locker room with 6 points on 2/6 shooting and 2 rebounds. At that moment, Charles Barkley reminded us he's not one of the best analysts on TV because he makes us laugh and calls it as he sees it. Sir Charles knows his stuff.
“Embiid is so distracted about this MVP thing, that he's not there tonight. He's got 6 points, he's not being aggressive, he's throwing the ball away. I wonder who on that team is gonna say 'Yo man, you're the MVP, we know you're the MVP'” Barkley explained and then forwarded advice that was given to him in his playing days.
“Derrick Smith, Rick Mahorn, told me ”Dude, you're playing like crap. Get your head out your ass and play better,” and somebody gotta say that [to Embiid].”
Charles Barkley, Inside the NBA
Embiid finished the game with 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists in 33 minutes on the floor. The punch to the face he got surely played a role, as Embiid is playing with a broken orbital bone. But his press conference after the game proved Barkley right - Embiid was (and probably still is) all up in his feelings about not winning the MVP.
“F**k Jalen Green”
After the game, Embiid was asked about not winning MVP. As I said, he started by congratulating Jokić and then took a turn down "it's the media's fault" lane.
“The only thing I’ll say about these awards… I go back to what I heard on a podcast. Bill Simmons basically saying, it sounded like he had a grudge against somebody, saying ‘F Jalen Green.’ If you’re going to allow these types of people to vote on these awards, that’s not fair.” said Embiid and elaborated on why he thinks the situation is problematic.
“What if Jalen Green was in a position to earn a supermax (contract), or I don’t know, an All-Star appearance? You’ve got someone sounding like that and has a lot of power. He can sway a lot of other media members and you’ve got someone saying that type of stuff. I don’t think it’s fair, I don’t think it’s okay.”
Joel Embiid, postgame press conference
The "f**k Jalen Green" moment happened on the Bill Simmons Podcast several episodes ago, when Simmons, Kevin O'Connor (KOC), and Wosny Lambre (Wos) were discussing Rookie of the Year selections. In a casual mood, Simmons made the point meaningful NBA minutes matter more than empty calorie stats on a losing team.
“F**k Jalen Green,” Simmons said around the 22:55 mark. “I don’t care you’re scoring 40 points and your team’s 19-60. Congratulations. Herb Jones is like guarding dudes in real games. Now the Houston people are going to be mad at me. I’m sorry. I like winning players, I’m sorry. Jalen Green will get there, it’s just that team was 21-61 this year or whatever.”
KOC and Wos went on to praise Green, and Simmons agreed with the praise and the opinion Green has a lot of potential and could do great things. But, as predicted, this caused a storm on Twitter because most people most likely didn't listen to the whole thing and appreciate the context and the vibe of the podcast. Simmons usually doesn't address every Twitter storm he causes, but this one got a little out of hand.
So if Embiid noticed the ”f**k Jalen Green” drama, he surely listens to the Bill Simmons podcast. Therefore, he didn't just have a chance to see this clarification tweet but also hear Simmons clear it up the very next episode.
Even without the tweet and the follow-up clarification, anyone who listens to Simmons, particularly when Big Wos is on the episode, knows things will get a bit loose. To imply some grand scheme or malice intent, as Embiid did, is absurd.
Players always ask the media to view them in their totality, not just focus on a bad night, or a bad play. Yet when it's time to extend the same courtesy to others, that principle quickly goes away.
Embiid is hurt about not winning the MVP, and that's fine. But just dropping a hint that Simmons didn't put Green on his Rookie of the Year ballot because of a grudge, particularly when it can have salary implications in the future, is hypocritical. Especially to launch that accusation towards a guy who's maniacal about lists, historical track records, and awards.