Shaquille O’Neal didn’t spare 76ers estranged point guard Ben Simmons while comparing him to Joel Embiid on Thursday night’s “Inside the NBA.”
“The difference between him and his soft partner is he can take criticism without being a crybaby and he still wants to play,” O’Neal said about the Sixers teammates.
O’Neal is no stranger to coming down on stars, especially Embiid, who previously took the Lakers legend’s criticism to heart before embracing advice from him and TNT co-host Charles Barkley.
“Me and Charles have been on him. We stay on him. We tell him to his face what he needs to do. He didn’t cry. He didn’t say ‘I want to be traded’, he didn’t complain about mistreatment, and that’s the difference. That’s why I like him and respect him,” O’Neal said about Embiid, who led the 76ers to a 105-87 win over the Lakers on Thursday night with 26 points and is playing at an MVP level in Simmons’ absence.
Simmons, meanwhile, has not played a single game this season as he pushes for a trade, which he requested during a summer holdout with the Sixers — following a historically poor playoff performance last season.
“The other guy [Simmons], I don’t respect and I’ve been thinking about it, he’s missing the whole season because they asked your coach a question, ‘can we win with you?’ and your coach gave a funny answer to tell you in the summertime you need to work on your game.”
O’Neal was referencing Sixers coach Doc Rivers’ comments after Philadelphia was eliminated from the playoffs by the Hawks last year. Rivers was asked by a reporter if he believed Simmons could be point guard on a championship team.
“I don’t even know the answer to that right now,” Rivers said.
During Thursday’s “Inside the NBA,” O’Neal said he would “get rid of” Simmons.
“You don’t think I haven’t been criticized by you guys and Stephen A. [Smith]?” O’Neal said. “You don’t think I’ve ever been criticized by LA media, New York media, great players get criticized, but the great players also step up the criticism and perform. This other guy, I don’t respect him. I would get rid of him.”
Charles Barkley added, “Until they figure out what to do with Ben Simmons, the Sixers are not true contenders.”
The 29-19 Sixers are currently tied with the with the Nets for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.
With the trade deadline approaching on Feb. 10, it will be interesting to see if the Sixers move Simmons.
Philadelphia plays host to Sacramento on Saturday.