We are running out of superlatives for how Joel Embiid has been playing this season. That’s saying something, considering he’s about to start his fourth straight all-star game.
But there’s one significant person who has always been hesitant to praise the 76ers’ big man: Hall of Famer, and TNT NBA analyst Shaquille O’Neal.
“He’s playing up to his size,” Shaq said. “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.”
“The game he played the other day [against the Bulls] had me in tears. I haven’t seen a big man play that way in a long time. I haven’t seen a big man in the MVP conversation in a long time.”
Wow. Some heavy praise from Shaq, who has offered Embiid anything but praise from his nationally-televised pulpit over the years. However, it wasn’t all throwing roses at Embiid’s feet.
“But! Don’t get too happy,” Shaq warned. “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.”