After losing to the Atlanta Hawks in the 2021 playoffs, there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future of All-Star big man Ben Simmons. During a pivotal possession in the fourth quarter, Simmons passed up a virtually open layup that ultimately cost the Philadelphia 76ers the game and series. Simmons received a heap of criticism for his Game 7 decision, and the after-effects reverberated into the next season as his struggles with mental health prevented him from ever taking the court in a Sixers uniform again.
When Simmons elected to sit out last season, one of his biggest critics was Los Angeles Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal. During his appearance on JJ Redick’s “Old Man & the Three” Podcast, Simmons addressed Shaq’s criticism of his decisions.
“I think it’s kinda ignorant, like Shaq and Chuck sometimes what they’re saying. ‘Cause they have a platform to kind of like protect us and, you know, do good,” Simmons said. “Um, obviously they’re supposed to criticize us, you know, we’re basketball players. But when it comes to personal stuff, there’s a level of respect they should have. Even Shaq, like, when I was dealing with everything going on, I actually messaged him, and he put it out. And I was like, alright.”
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Shaq Doubles Down on Ben Simmons Disrespect
Shaq, a four-time NBA champion, has never been a person to mince words. Once the Hall of Famer caught wind of the newly acquired Nets star’s comments, he responded abruptly, explaining why his previous comment about Simmons could not simply be chalked up to him just being a ‘hater’.
“The mental thing ain’t come out until everybody started bashing you, then you let people know you have mental health problems. I told the world, I said, ‘he did DM me, he told me he’s going through some problems,’ and I said I was going to back up, and then I told him in the DM ‘OK, the reason why people don’t know what’s going on [is] because you ain’t talking,” Shaq said on “The Big Podcast”.
“But as far as what I saw and I speak on what I know, I know how to get to that next level. He knows that and yes, you can be my brother, but I ain’t gonna always sugarcoat things, I’m gonna tell you the real. I ain’t never sugar coat.
But you can’t say I’m hating because all of the stuff you’re doing, [you’re doing] it because you saw me do it… If you’re greater, you can’t be a hater.”
Seth Curry Makes Bold Statement on Simmons’ Shooting
Simmons has only been in the league a short time and is already a multi-time All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year finalist. His game is nearly flawless, but anyone who has watched him play can see that his unwillingness to shoot often limits his team’s offensive spacing.
Nets guard Seth Curry who has been Simmons’ teammate in both Philadelphia and Brooklyn, says the Nets star doesn’t need a jump shot to be a threat on offense.
“I don’t think he needs a jump shot,’’ Curry said in July to Australian newspaper the Herald Sun per NetsDaily.
“He’s just got to do what he does best – which is defend, rebound, push the ball, make plays for other people and attack the rim. When you’ve got the size and talent like him, who takes not one but two and sometimes three guys to stop him getting to the rim, that is a lot in itself.’’
Simmons’ long-awaited Nets debut is drawing nearer by the day. It will be interesting to see how well he gels with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.