The title-starved Philadelphia 76ers have become synonymous with second-round playoff exits. For the fourth time in five years, they saw their campaign come to an end in the Eastern Conference semifinals last month, as they fell to the Miami Heat in six games. And, to add injury to insult, the Sixers played without a fully healthy Joel Embiid, who suffered a sprained right thumb and right orbital fracture before their semifinal series began.
Embiid produced a terrific season for the Sixers. In a career-high 68 games played, the 7-foot, 280-pound superstar averaged an NBA-high 30.6 points with 11.7 rebounds, and also became the first center since Shaquille O'Neal (2000) to lead the NBA in scoring. But, Embiid wasn't fully rewarded for his achievements, as he finished runner-up for MVP for a second straight year. The Sixers' championship window hasn't closed with Embiid, but the team can't afford to squander more opportunities.
"It all depends on the leadership. It starts with Embiid. We talk about it a lot on the radio, where guys are worried about individual honors," former NBA player and current Detroit Pistons analyst Rick Mahorn explained to the JR SportBrief show on Wednesday. "And it's all about the team, it's how you prepare. I had a guy in Isiah Thomas who practiced early and left late. That showed he was the leader of our team, and he put in the work.
"So, to me, I think Joel Embiid should do less talking, less Twitter, less social, and be more like Giannis Antetokounmpo, who's determined. And he's always talking about his teammates. It's not about him trying to get MVP, it's trying to win a championship -- and that's what it's all about. And, until he changes his mindset, I think that's going to be Philadelphia's downfall."
The entire NBA conversation between Mahorn and JR can be accessed in the audio player above.
You can follow the JR SportBrief show on Twitter @JRSportBrief, and Tom Hanslin @TomHanslin.