Lost And Found: Ben Simmons’ Boots-Smokin Of The Nets

The Brooklyn Nets tried to clown Ben Simmons’ poor shooting, but all they did was awake a sleeping giant in Game 3.

After the Brooklyn Nets upset the Sixers in Game 1 of the first-round of the NBA playoffs, they started feeling themselves. Ben Simmons scored just 9 points in that game.

Simmons registered a triple-double in a Game 2 Sixers win, but that didn’t stop Nets’ fans from posting a demeaning and provocative missing poster outside of Barclays Center prior to Game 3.  

The subject? Simmons’ nonexistent jumpshot.  

It wasn’t just the fans that took aim at Simmons. Nets forward Jared Dudley went as far as calling Simmons “an average half court player” and they exchanged some pregame trash talk about it. The Nets were heavy underdogs entering the series, and with the series tied at 1-1 and Sixers star Joel Embiid out for a pivotal Game 3, it  probably wasn’t wise to give Brett Brown’s crew extra bulletin board material, but that’s exactly what happened.

Simmons put Philly on his back, hit 11-of-13 shots, scored a playoff career-high 31 points, dominated every phase of the game and talked hella’ junk throughout. 

When the smoke cleared, Philly had a 2-1 series lead and Simmons got some sweet revenge.

Both Simmons and Golden State’s Kevin Durant showed the hoops world how a superstar responds to a bad game. False narratives emerged about LA Clippers defensive stud Patrick Beverly being in Durant’s head and shutting down the two-time NBA Finals MVP after Durant scored just 21 points in a 31-point Game 2 Clippers comeback.

Durant responded by telling the media: “I’m Kevin Durant.” then went out and dropped 38 points on LA in a Game 3 Warriors blowout win on Thursday night.

https://youtu.be/-8eJTbYjaFE

The definition of an elite player is not how he acts when he’s winning and performing at his best. No, elite players are defined by how they bounce back after adversity.

Simmons is far from an elite shooter.  The 2018  NBA Rookie of the Year shoots 58 percent from the free throw line for his career and is 0-17 on three-pointers the past two seasons. The long-range deficiencies haven’t stopped Simmons from becoming one of the premier players in the game. His rare 6-foot-9 size at point guard, his strength, passing ability and court vision have been a major factor in Philly’s rise back into the Eastern Conference championship mix.

LeBron James has already anointed him, “Young King” to the throne.

On the flip side, Simmons’ wretched jump shooting has become a bad, sad joke. At times it appears as if he’s almost afraid to shoot. Some feel that his ego has clouded his judgment, as Simmons has not made improved shooting a priority, which has hurt Philly’s growth at times.

Prior to Game 3, Simmons was asked about the Nets players’ criticism of his skills.

You could see in his demeanor that he couldn’t wait to get on the court and put the talking to bed. Simmons proved that he has the heart of a superstar and impacts the game in ways most others can’t. Simply put, he’s lethal even if he doesn’t have the jumpshot.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.