We’ve been over it with Donovan Mitchell – Shaquille O’Neal believes in tough love. He grew up in an era where you had to prove to your elders you deserve their respect; it wasn’t just given to you. For the players of the highest caliber, only one thing was considered proof – a ring.
No one knows it better than Joel Embiid. Shaq (and Chuck) both spend a lot of time criticizing the big man’s position and role in today’s NBA. The majority of that criticism was directed towards Embiid. Every time he took a three-pointer when there was room to attack the pain, Shaq and Chuck went off on him.
But unlike most young stars, Embiid embraced the criticism. He acknowledged his conditioning needs to improve and that shooting threes was easier than abusing guys in the paint. By all accounts, Embiid is in the best shape of his life and one of the favorites to win the MVP award this year. His latest performance against the Chicago Bulls was all Shaq needed.
Embiid dropped 50/17/5 and added 4 steals and 2 blocks in his career performance. What made the performance more impressive he did it within the flow of the game, going 17-26 from the field, and dominating in the paint.
“He’s playing up to his size. He’s playing with a lot more enthusiasm, and he’s getting the numbers that it takes to be a big man in the MVP category. Any big man can get 20 [points], any big man can get 23, but it takes a special big man to average over 28 and dominate the way he did.”Shaquille O’Neal, NBC Sports
See, Shaq will dish out criticism, but he’ll be more than happy to give praise where praise is due. Still, this isn’t “mission accomplished.” Remember what’s expected – rings. O’Neil made sure to remind everyone this is only a promising start. Superstars are made in May and June.
“But! Don’t get too happy. Because in the NBA there are three seasons: the first half [of the regular season], the second half, and the playoffs. And if you dominate in all three seasons, especially the playoffs, then Philadelphia is gonna be a happy city.”Shaquille O’Neal, NBC Sports
Happy is the understatement of the year, we all saw what happened when the Eagles won the Superbowl. But for the first time in a long time, the 76ers have a team that makes sense and a guy showing consistency in dominating every night. That’s why they are currently the only team that seems to have a realistic shot to beat the Nets and go to the Finals.
Trust the Process.