After the shame and criticism that Ben Simmons has taken from his time in Philadelphia, it was rare to hear his actual opinion on any of the noise. However, he recently broke his silence on a podcast with former teammate J.J. Reddick where he let his guard down and revealed his take on the negative energy he’s been receiving.
“People go through it, doesn’t matter how much money you got, how famous you are, like it’s real, people go through everyday struggles,” said Simmons on “The Old Man and the Three” podcast.
“I think it’s kind of ignorant, like Shaq and Chuck sometimes what they’re saying ’cause they have a platform to kind of like protect us and, you know, do good. Um, obviously they’re supposed to criticize us, you know, we’re basketball players. But when it comes to personal stuff there’s a level of respect they should have. Even Shaq, like, when I was dealing with everything going on, I actually messaged him and he put it out. And I was like, all right.”
Ben Simmons on Shaq:
“He always wants to say were LSU brothers, this and that. If you’re my LSU brother you would have reached out by now.”
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) September 22, 2022
Simmons hasn’t played in an NBA game since the Philadelphia 76ers lost to the Atlanta Hawks in the 2021 NBA Playoffs. Criticism has come from all corners of the media universe, with many blaming the Sixers’ loss on Simmons. It fractured his relationship with crucial team personnel like head coach Doc Rivers and star player Joel Embiid.
However, with media personality and NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, his critique hurt even more for Simmons since the two both went to LSU. What was once a connection beyond the NBA for their relationship has now become strained. For Simmons, Shaq’s lack of checking up on him during his time of need amid the intense scrutiny made him feel differently about his fellow LSU alum.
“I DM’d him and I was like, ‘Why are you saying this if you don’t even know the story? ’Cause he always wants to say like, ‘Yo, we’re LSU brothers, you’re my brother, all this, that.’ If you’re my LSU brother, you would’ve reached out by now, and it’s been months since I’ve been dealing with this. You ain’t reached out once and said like, ‘Hey, you OK? Like, what’s going on.'”
Simmons’ sense of abandonment by friends-turned-analysts is a casualty of former players now having to become impartial arbiters of the popular narrative. O’Neal went with the flow and never called Simmons directly.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 10, 2022
Not all new former player analysts reacted the same way toward Simmons. ESPN’s Jay Williams was formerly very critical of him until he checked in to get his side of the story.
“The one person who did reach out was Jay Williams. And he had a real talk with me. I was like, I really appreciate that because, you’re trying to understand what’s going on with me. Because he did say something and took it back, which I appreciated.”
With Simmons now ostensibly poised to return to the hardwood with the Brooklyn Nets to play with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, he has another shot at greatness. Now he has to check his sensitivity and make his field goals.