EXCLUSIVE: Reggie Miller Reveals What He’d Do if He Was Ben Simmons’ Teammate

Ben Simmons

Getty Ben Simmons #10 of the Brooklyn Nets.

Reggie Miller is one of the greatest players in NBA history. The Indiana Pacers legend was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012 and made the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team this year.

Miller averaged 18.2 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists during his iconic career. He made five All-Star teams and three All-NBA teams and is fourth all-time in 3-pointers.

On top of being a gifted basketball player, Miller was also mentally tough. He never shied away from taking big shots and going up against Chicago Bulls icon Michael Jordan. The two Hall of Famers famously got into a fight in February 1993 and battled each other for seven hard-fought games in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals, a series the Bulls won.

Miller, who calls NBA games for TNT, recently spoke to Heavy about several topics, including Brooklyn Nets All-Star Ben Simmons. The lefty, who hasn’t played at all this season due to mental health reasons, was acquired by the Nets from the Philadelphia 76ers in the blockbuster James Harden trade.

Simmons is said to be doing better mentally, but he’s dealing with back soreness as he ramps up his physical activity and it’s unknown when he’ll make his Nets debut.

Miller Talks About Simmons

Miller told Heavy that if he was on the Nets, he would focus on trying to build Simmons’ mental game.

Simmons is an elite defender and passer, but he hasn’t developed an outside game yet and is scared to shoot open jumpers.

“We all know the physical gifts that God gave him. We’ve seen that on full display. We know how talented he is. To me, that’s not the issue. It’s what’s between his shoulders,” Miller said. “If I was his teammate, I’d be trying to repair and build that up because he’s gotta become stronger mentally to go with his physical talent and there’s always gonna be guys taking shots and fans taking shots at him, especially in today’s world of social media.

“If I was Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Steve Nash and those guys, I would be building what’s upstairs and preparing him for what’s to come, for what’s to be said about him, how to handle that and juggle that. I know what he’s gonna be able to do on the basketball court. I’m not worried about that. I’m more worried about mentally. I’ve got to repair and get him stronger.”

Simmons has career averages of 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists. However, he’s only shooting 59.7% from the free-throw line and has made just five shots from beyond the arc.

The last time we saw Simmons play was Game 7 of the 2021 Eastern Conference semifinals between the Sixers and Atlanta Hawks. The three-time All-Star played 35 minutes and finished with five points, eight rebounds and 13 assists while shooting 2-of-4 from the field and 1-of-2 from the free-throw line. Simmons also passed up a wide-open dunk attempt because he was scared to get fouled and go to the charity stripe.

Simmons Was Scared to Shoot

In the fourth quarter of Game 7, Simmons passed up a dunk attempt and dished the ball to Matisse Thybulle, who got fouled and went 1-of-2 from the free-throw line. The Hawks went on a 5-0 run to go ahead 93-87 with 2:31 left in regulation after that sequence and wound up winning 103-96 to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

A change of scenery was needed for Simmons, who said during his introductory press conference with the Nets that “there’s just a lot of things internally that had to happen over time” in Philadelphia.

Miller, a basketball fanatic, is rooting for Simmons to succeed in Brooklyn and rejuvenate his career. Only time will tell if the All-NBA guard gets mentally tough and faces his fear of shooting the basketball from the outside with the Nets.

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