Ben Simmons Claps Back At Those Doubting His Commitment | “You Can’t Make People Believe, You Know?”

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Brooklyn Nets swingman Ben Simmons has a message for those inside and outside the locker room. He’s committed to basketball but is dealing with real injuries, and it will take time to get back to peak form. The Nets were embarrassed on national television Tuesday night by the Sacramento Kings 153-121, and at 6-9 this disaster of a season looks like it’s a long way from turning around.

Both Simmons and superstar teammate Kevin Durant had one-on-one interviews with the media on the state of the team and where they’re both at individually.

“You’re obviously not gonna be happy when anybody’s out,” Simmons told The Athletic. “But for me, I’ve been dealing with the knee since the start of the season. It’s been swollen. I had PRP (injections). I had blood drained a couple times. So it’s not a made up thing, you know? It’s a real thing. I get [the skepticism], but I think the one thing with me is that I’m a competitor. I want to win and play. So I’m gonna do what I can to get out there. There’s only so much I can really do [about perception]. You can’t make people believe, you know?”

There’s a strange thing that goes on inside an NBA team. When a player is injured and dealing with rehab recovery he is often off on his own and on a different schedule and timetable than his teammates. The larger team is unaware of where said player is in his progression and when the injured player will return.

Games come fast in the NBA. Every other night. As selfish as it sounds, guys are worried about themselves and who is available that night.

Take the Kyrie Irving situation. Not an injury, but he is suspended from the team. He has a checklist he must complete in order to return. That checklist was put out on the internet. Everyone can find it and see what it says. Irving has been in touch with his teammates through a group chat.

But as recently as Tuesday’s game, players thought he might be eligible to play against the Kings. How is it possible they have no clue what’s going on? The Irving rules to return are clearer than an injury situation.

Durant knows something about this. Remember when he got hurt in the 2019 playoffs as a member of the Golden State Warriors? The team was going for a three-peat and had no idea when he would be back. The Athletic published two stories with teammates questioning when he would be back, because they were unsure of the timeline.

This is Kevin FREAKING DURANT! Already an MVP and two-time Finals MVP and players are questioning him? Durant rushed back, though he’ll never admit it, and we saw what happened next. Torn Achilles and he missed a prime year of his career.

Simmons is not Durant, but he is dealing with injuries and the fact that he hasn’t played NBA basketball in 18 months prior to the start of this season. It’s going to take some time to get back to his peak form.

Fans and some media members can kill Simmons for his unwillingness to shoot and not possessing whatever “alpha” quality they believe he needs. But give the man an opportunity to actually get acclimated to NBA ball again, and if you feel the need to judge him, you can continue to do so. But make it about basketball.

As for the Nets. This is a disaster of their own making. They willfully destroyed their culture to bring in Durant and Irving. Moved heaven and earth to acquire James Harden, and he’s no longer on the team. With a win-now mentality you trade for a player in Simmons who could be helpful but isn’t anywhere near ready to do so.

Right now, Durant is the only player on the floor that looks like he’s capable of playing in the NBA. Guys are coming off injuries and the roster is devoid of talent. This is what happens when you mortgage your future for stars. To his credit, Durant isn’t pointing fingers.

“Look at our starting lineup. Edmond Sumner, Royce O’Neale, Joe Harris, [Nic] Claxton and me. It’s not disrespect, but what are you expecting from that group?” Durant asked of B/R. “You expect us to win because I’m out there. So if you’re watching from that lens, you’re expecting us to play well because No. 7 is out there.
“I’m really having a good time. I wish y’all could hear me talk during the game. If I got mic’d up more, people would stop asking me if I’m happy or not. I’m enjoying every moment I get to step on this f–king court, and part of it is because I tore my Achilles. And the pandemic, I didn’t know if we were going to play again. I didn’t know if I was going to play again.”

Durant just wants to hoop, and for better or worse, without Irving, this is what he has right now in Brooklyn. How long will he want to stay, if the losing continues and he has to answer questions about who isn’t playing or around? Time will tell.

These are your 2022-23 Brooklyn Nets.