Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal went off on Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons last week on TNT’s “Inside the NBA.” Shaq was critical of Simmons’ holdout this season and called him a “crybaby.” Simmons hopped in Shaq’s Twitter DMs and let the Diesel know he was mad at the things he said on air.
During last week’s “Inside the NBA” broadcast, while praising Joel Embiid for his play and All-Star selection, Shaq went in on Simmons.
“I stay on big guys because I care about them. I want them to play a certain way, I want them to play at a certain level. The difference between [Embiid] and his soft partner [Simmons] is, he can take criticism without being a crybaby and he still wants to play.
“Me and Charles, we’ve been on [Embiid] and we stay on him. We told him to his face what he needs to do. He didn’t cry, he didn’t say ‘I want to get traded.’ He didn’t complain about mistreatment. And that’s the difference. That’s why I like and respect him. The other guy, I don’t respect him.
“I’ve been thinking about it – you’re missing a whole season because they asked your coach a question, ‘Can we win without you?’ And your coach gave a funny answer? That should tell you, you need to get in the summer time and go work on your game.
“You don’t think I haven’t been criticized by you guys, Stephen A.? You don’t think I haven’t been criticized by L.A. media, New York media? Great players get criticized. But the great players also step up to the criticism and perform. So this other guy, I don’t respect him. I would get rid of him.”
Well d–n, Shaq. Tell us how you really feel!
On the latest episode of “The Big Podcast with Shaq,” O’Neal said his fellow “LSU brother” Simmons hopped in his DMs and was mad about what was said.
“He kinda got in my DM and said some things, and I said some things back…Yeah. All I said is, ‘You’re leaving your man out there, you need to play.’ That’s all I said. He said some things, but I’m not going to elaborate on what he said because that’s not cool. […] He was mad.”
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 3, 2022
Simmons has sat out the entire season after a poor finish in last season’s playoffs and a trade demand during the offseason. The 76ers’ front office won’t make any trade unless they receive exactly what they want in return, and they would like Simmons to play and fulfill his contractual obligation while they work out a trade. Simmons has opted to stay away from the team, citing the well-being of his mental health.
This whole situation is ugly.
Putting aside the mental health aspect, because I’m not a licensed mental health professional and neither is Shaq, there is validity to the rant. This is a bad look for Simmons.
He showed up during the preseason and was promptly sent home because he wasn’t listening to coaches. The optics of how he performed in the playoffs, coupled with the trade demand and subsequent holdout, make him look spoiled. entitled and unable to handle criticism.
To be fair, Shaq hasn’t always done what’s in the best interest of the team for which he’s played. The Los Angeles Lakers big man delayed surgery on his toe until the start of the 2002-03 season, as opposed to having it done in the offseason, which would’ve had him ready to play, famously saying:
“I got hurt on company time, so I’ll rehab on company time.”
It has been seven months since this saga began. Simmons has not meaningfully participated in a practice or a film session. He and his personal trainers work out at the 76ers’ facility often while the team is playing games.
Meanwhile on the court, the 76ers are one game out of first and Embiid is an MVP frontrunner. The trade deadline is Thursday Feb. 10, and all eyes will be on this situation.
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