76ers

LeBron James fires back, calls Charles Barkley 'a hater'

LeBron James fires back, calls Charles Barkley 'a hater'

CLEVELAND — LeBron James is done bowing to Sir Charles.

After he was criticized by Charles Barkley for questioning Cleveland's front office, James tore into the former NBA star and opinionated TV commentator on Monday night following a loss in Dallas. James not only countered what was said about him but he also attacked Barkley's character for some off-the-court missteps.

"I'm not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that," James told ESPN after the Cavs lost 104-97 to Dallas, dropping the defending champions to 7-8 in January. "I'm not the one who threw somebody through a window. I never spit on a kid. I never had unpaid debt in Las Vegas. I never said, `I'm not a role model.' I never showed up to All-Star Weekend on Sunday because I was in Vegas all weekend partying.

"All I've done for my entire career is represent the NBA the right way. Fourteen years, never got in trouble. Respected the game. Print that."

Barkley has never been one to hold back his opinion on James or any other player, but the 11-time All-Star was particularly critical of James last week after Cleveland's star complained about Cleveland's roster being "top-heavy" and questioning whether the team's front office was satisfied with one title.

Barkley said James was "whiny" and "inappropriate" and wondered about his motives. Barkley called James "the best player in the world" but wondered if he really wanted to compete. James initially dismissed Barkley, saying he was only trying to boost TV ratings. Barkley works as an in-studio host for TNT.

However, James decided he couldn't let those comments go and turned on Barkley, who never won an NBA title.

"He's a hater. What makes what he says credible? Because he's on TV?" James said. "I know he wanted to retire a long time ago, but he can't. He's stuck up on that stage every week."

James also said if Barkley wants to continue any discussion, he knows where to find him.

"If this makes him want to talk to me, the schedule's out there," James said. "He knows every road arena I'll be in. Don't just come up to me at All-Star and shake my hand and smile."

This isn't the first time James has fired back this season at detractors. He was upset when New York Knicks president Phil Jackson referred to his close friends and business partners as his "posse."

James hasn't forgotten Jackson's words, firing back at him to ESPN as well.

"I went to see (Carmelo Anthony) at the Garden two years ago when we were in New York," James said. "They played Portland. I went up to a suite at halftime, and Phil Jackson didn't say one word to me."

James and the Cavs have been struggling lately as they try to defend their title. All-Star forward Kevin Love has been dealing with back spasms and missed Monday's game and starting guard J.R. Smith remains sidelined with a broken thumb.

James insists the Cavs just need to play better and in the interim he vowed not to let anyone criticize him.

"I'm tired of biting my tongue," James said. "There's a new sheriff in town."

Sixers at Wizards: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

Sixers at Wizards: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

The Sixers (15-6), winners of four in a row and eight of their last nine, will look to get to the .500 mark on the road when they visit the Wizards (6-13) Thursday night.

Josh Richardson (right hamstring tightness) remains out. He did individualized workouts the last two days at practice, but the team is being cautious as Richardson will miss his fourth straight game. Shake Milton (right hip discomfort) will be available.

Washington will be without starting center Thomas Bryant (right foot stress reaction) and veteran wing C.J. Miles (left wrist). Backup bigs Ian Mahinmi (right Achilles strain) and Moritz Wagner (left ankle sprain) are available. 

Here are tonight's essentials:

When: 7 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Capital One Arena
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia+
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

And here are three storylines to watch:

The competition

Rookie Matisse Thybulle has wreaked havoc on the defensive end in almost every one of his appearances this season. He leads all rookies with 29 steals and is third among them in deflections — despite playing far less minutes than the other first-year players at the top of the list.

But it hasn’t just been Thybulle that’s been so disruptive. Ben Simmons, who looks well on his way to earning some type of All-Defensive team honors, leads the NBA in steals and is second in deflections.

A competition has formed.

“I’d say it’s me, him and J-Rich when it comes to steals, trying to see who can get the most, within reason, without trying to put guys in tough positions,” Thybulle said after practice Tuesday. “I think it’s cool that we have that competitiveness. You’ve seen it with Ben, he’s changed games — he’s won games — with steals down the stretch. I think it’s cool to have that little competition within ourselves.”

The caveat of not “trying to put guys in tough positions” is important here. Thybulle has been walking the fine line all season of being disruptive and not leaving his teammates out to dry. To Thybulle’s credit, you can see the improvement. And to Brett Brown’s credit, he admitted before the Jazz game that he needs to be more tolerant with Thybulle.

Despite playing at the fastest pace in the NBA, the Wizards are one of the better teams in the league at taking care of the basketball. Something will have to give Thursday night.

Feed Embiid

Joel Embiid is the focal point of the Sixers’ offense and that shouldn’t change against Washington. He’ll likely see plenty of rookie Rui Hachimura playing the five with the Wizards’ frontcourt so banged up. With that, Embiid is likely to see plenty of double teams and possibly even some zone.

It’ll be on the other Sixers to make plays and shots around Embiid, who has improved greatly in navigating double teams. They should be able to expose Washington’s defense. The Wizards have the worst-rated defense in the NBA and give up the third-most points per game.

Beal is the real deal

News flash: Bradley Beal is really freaking good. And he’s having one of his best seasons. He’s averaging 28.7 points and 7.2 assists a game — both marks would be career highs. He’s taking the most threes he ever has so his percentage is down, but he’s getting to the line just a little under seven times a game. 

And Beal’s supporting cast is no joke on the offensive end. The Sixers will have their hands full with how Davis Bertans (44.6 percent) and Isaiah Thomas (41 percent) are shooting from three. With that said, both players can be exposed on the defensive end.

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There's a giant statue of Joel Embiid in Brooklyn, but why?

There's a giant statue of Joel Embiid in Brooklyn, but why?

As many Philadelphia Sixers fans know, watching Joel Embiid play basketball can be awe inspiring.

Now, for tens of thousands of Brooklyn, New York residents who will pass by a recently unveiled sculpture, they'll have the chance to be inspired by Embiid in a different way.

New York artist Hank Willis Thomas created a 22-foot tall sculpture that was actually inspired by an image he saw of a Harlem Globetrotter standing in front of the Statue of Liberty. But when it came time to make the giant bronze sculpture, he used a three-dimensional scan of Embiid's arm, according to Brooklyn Paper.

The sculpture is titled "Unity" and was written about in the New York Times last month when it was unveiled:

“Unity” was originally called “We’re No. #1,” a more assertive title, perhaps recalling the historical competition between the boroughs that reaches back to the 19th century. “Unity” is a traditional and fairly conservative work, accompanied in the official news release by a statement that sounds politician-worthy: “This sculpture is a homage to, and celebration of, the unique and multifaceted character of the borough of Brooklyn,” Mr. Thomas says. “The spirit of Brooklyn has always been about upward mobility and connection to roots.”

The piece was five years in the making. On his Instagram page, the artist added, "It's about the process!" That can't be a coincidence can it?

Turns out, Embiid modeled for the sculpture quite some time ago (he's probably more jacked by now). Thomas was asked about Embiid's involvement by the folks at Tisch:

The sculpture is modeled after Philadelphia 76er Joel Embiid’s arm. How did he become involved in this piece?

HWT: I had a studio visit with some people and they saw that I was doing a sculpture, so I was doing molds and casts with body parts of NBA players. They were like, “Do you need anybody else?,” and I was like, “Sure!” Then they said, “Well there’s this kid, he hasn’t started playing yet, but I’m pretty sure he’s gonna’ be good. You should reach out to him.” And that was Joel Embiid.

We reached out to Mr. Thomas to follow up but have yet to get a response.

"It's beautiful in a way, in terms of form, agility, suppleness," one New Yorker told Eyewitness News of the statue.

Philadelphians would agree. I'm curious what Nets fans think of Embiid flashing the No. 1 in their city for years to come?