Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons, right, and Joel Embiid talk during an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Matt Slocum/Associated Press

The Philadelphia 76ers may have a bigger problem than whether Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons fit together on the court: whether they can get along off of it.

In a piece detailing the latest on the Sixers’ coaching search, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote the two stars don’t “get along.”

While it isn’t necessarily a prerequisite to get along with your coworkers, Pompey directly compared them to Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.

However, Sixers president executive vice president of communications Dave Sholler called the report “false” in a tweet Monday.  

Here’s where we get into the semantics of what it means to “get along” with someone. Embiid and Simmons don’t seem to be BFFs who go vacationing together during the offseason. That doesn’t necessarily mean Embiid will be making Simmons diss tracks in a few years.

As much as NBA locker rooms like to present themselves as harmonious groups of togetherness, that’s rarely the case. They feature 15 adults with different interests and different upbringings. Cliques form around commonalities. Successful teams navigate the differences in personalities and work together for a common goal. Others watch their locker rooms fracture as fissures between cliques grow.

In his report, Pompey presented the lack of good vibes between Simmons and Embiid as a statement of fact. It was a minor bullet point in a larger piece, not even attributed to team sources. Rumors of tension between Embiid and Simmons are nothing new, but the report made it sound like an accepted fact.

The Sixers have every reason to publicly refute it, as it’s in their best interest to put out any potential fires that could get out of control as they search for a new coach. Whomever the Sixers hire will probably be the team’s last shot at making the Embiid-Simmons pairing work. If they’re already headed toward a Shaq/Kobe breakup, the coach could be doomed before he or she even takes the job. 

At the very least, it’s a situation worth monitoring after the Sixers’ ugly playoff exit. 

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