Hall of Fame coach trashes Joel Embiid's game

Hall of Fame coach trashes Joel Embiid's game originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

It’s completely acceptable to say that Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid are ridiculously good players. It’s not a binary situation, where to praise one, you must smite the other.

Nobody told Basketball Hall of Fame coach George Karl.

Karl was a guest on SiriusXM NBA Radio recently, and was asked about the very fluid NBA MVP race, one that has been taken over of late by Embiid over Jokic, the two-time reigning MVP.

“To me, I don’t want to bad mouth Embiid because I think he’s really, really good. A lot of my assistant coaches were in Philadelphia when he was a young player and they kept telling me he’s going to be the best guy to ever play the game. I see him moving in that direction. But he takes too many possessions off. He has lazy body language. He gets angry at things that we don’t understand why. I just don’t know if he’s that NBA pro that we all love because he’s a competitive SOB and he’s tough. 

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“From what I know in Philadelphia everybody says he’s playing great. The games I’ve seen he’s played really really well. He’s played great in the fourth quarters with a lot of comeback wins. But I can only like one big guy and I’m going to take Jokic over Embiid.”

Tell me you haven’t watched Embiid play, without telling me you haven’t watched Embiid play.

I definitely think there is some laziness here. And it’s not Embiid.

It’s easy to see why Karl is partial to Jokic over Embiid. Karl coached the Nuggets for nine seasons, and has the franchise’s second-most coaching wins with 423.


With that said, if you haven’t really watched someone play very much, simply say that, instead of throwing out wildly off-base comments about a guy who, at the very least, has been the second-best player in the NBA over the past three seasons.

Also, if you want to compare and contrast the two players, you can’t say that Embiid has “lazy body language” without saying the same about Jokic. Both players are extremely efficient, intuitive players. Yes, at times it looks like both players are moving in slow motion. But could a player who “takes too many possessions off” lead the league in scoring for two consecutive seasons, while ranking out of the top 30 in minutes per game?

An underlying issue here is that some of the men and women who vote for NBA MVP are similarly underinformed when it comes to players. The most knowledgeable, tuned-in beat reporter in Philadelphia, or Denver, or anywhere, can’t watch every game. Every year MVPs are decided by writers who are asked to rank the top five players in the league for the season, and many of them haven’t seen any of the top five play more than a handful of games each.

I think the best thing you can say about Karl’s assessments of Embiid is that he’s wildly uninformed, and likely hasn’t seen very many Sixers games. If he has, in fact, seen Embiid play, then he’s just being disingenuous, and should probably refrain from commenting on basketball entirely.