Whenever the Philadelphia 76ers are scheduled for a TNT broadcast, Sixers fans often let out a sigh as they're in for a long night with plenty of ridicule for the team's two stars. As Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have been playing alongside each other for the last two seasons, TNT's Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley have spent plenty of time criticizing both players many times.
Lately, Embiid and Simmons have made it hard for anybody to have anything bad to say about their games. Since the start of the season, Embiid has looked like the NBA's frontrunner for MVP. And while Simmons still isn't a consistent shooter and got off to a slow start this year, he's looked better than ever on both ends of the ball lately.
At this point, Charles Barkley has shifted from constantly criticizing both players to making a very bold comparison on Thursday during the halftime show after watching the first two quarters of Simmons, Embiid, and the Sixers taking on the Dallas Mavericks at the Wells Fargo Center.
"When they dominate, they're not Shaq and Kobe. . . But they are Shaq and Kobe lite," Barkley said with confidence. "They are gonna be a serious problem for anybody that they play against. Joel Embiid got more talent, and he's more of a problem than me. When I say Shaq and Kobe like, what I meant by that is, those guys are gonna be a problem every single night."
Of course, Shaq, who was on the other end of the table as Barkley, did not comment on the comparison. We can assume he probably disagrees. And while Barkley might've taken it too far by comparing Embiid and Simmons to two proven Hall of Famers and NBA Champions this early on in their careers, Barkley's point stands. Simmons and Embiid will be a problem for their opponents, and their first-place record through 33 games shows that much.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_