The back-and-forth news on the Ben Simmons injury front does not stop. In the 24 hours before Simmons was set to make his debut, Shams Charania of The Athletic announced that the point guard would remain on the sidelines for game 4.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski added that “after getting on the court yesterday Simmons says he awoke with back soreness today. In the end, the team and Simmons agreed he’ll remain out for Game 4.”
The news brought a Hall of Fame rant from ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
‘Nobody Is Worse Than Ben Simmons’
On the April 25 episode of “First Take,” Smith unleashed on Simmons.
“Nobody is worse than Ben Simmons,” said Smith. “Ben Simmons might also be the weakest, most pathetic excuse for a professional athlete we have ever seen in not just American history but the history of sports.”
This was the second memorable rant by Smith since the news dropped. Reacting to the news during halftime of the April 24 game between the Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors, Smith called Simmons both a quitter and bad teammate.
“I feel bad for anybody who was his teammate. He quit on LSU, he quit on the Philadelphia 76ers and now, he ain’t showing up for the Brooklyn Nets,” Smith said.
“This is one of the most pathetic situations that I’ve ever seen, in my life,” Smith added, “He ain’t going to war, he ain’t going into the octagon, he’s not going in the boxing ring. It’s pulling teeth to get this man to play basketball. It’s pathetic. It’s sad.”
Nets Are ‘Exasperated’ by the Simmons News
Smith was not the only one with a strong reaction to the news that Simmons would once again be missing game four with the Brooklyn Nets sitting down 3-0 in their playoff series against the Boston Celtics.
“The people involved here are exasperated by this saga because that is what it is,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on the April 25 episode of “Get Up.” “I got the feeling yesterday that it was like waving a white flag.”
After the Nets completed the trade for Simmons, he was anticipated only to miss a few games while he conditions to get back in game shape. However, that was in February and the Australian point guard has yet to take the court. Now, down 3-0 in a first round playoff series, the three-time All-Star is pushing back his return date from Monday, to indefinite.
“I know this might have the appearance of Ben Simmons saying ‘I don’t want to play, we’re down 3-0.’ But, he woke up yesterday with his back hurting, that is what I have been told,” Windhorst added. “It’s as simple as that. He just didn’t feel comfortable going to play for the first time in 11 months with the way his back felt. That’s the bottom line. It’s extraordinarily disappointing because he had, I would say, genuine optimism for at least a week that he was going to play in this game. He wasn’t even ruling himself out for Game 3. And so, the Nets were expecting to get this, he was expecting to play. It was another knee-capping moment in what’s been a season of knee-capping moments for Ben Simmons.”
Some have been saying this was the fate for Simmons all along. On the March 23 “Basketball Illuminati” podcast, NBA insider Amin Elhassan made his case that the Nets have known for some time that Simmons wasn’t coming back. He suggested that the Nets were only keeping hope alive for his return so that fans wouldn’t see that the team traded for “damaged goods” in the All-Star point guard.
What happens next for the Nets is a giant question mark and what Simmons’ status is moving forward will be interesting to keep an eye on. However, the recent news is surely disappointing for a team down 3-0 in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.