Ben Simmons went viral last October when footage emerged of him training with what looked like a phone in his pocket (it was actually a practice jersey). But because of the standoff between him and his coach at the time (the team had fined him at least US $680,000 for missing three preseason games, after Simmons refused to play following his coach airing public doubts about him), both fans (and detractors) were quick to believe the rumour.
To a degree, this is understandable: if you’re pissed off, or deliberately trying to get fired (as many believed Simmons was), what better way to hasten a transfer than to check your texts during training? On the other hand, it was a cruel and unsubstantiated attack on Simmons’ professionalism.
In any case, it turns out that’s not what Simmons was doing. He’s more professional than that. Speaking of professionalism, Simmons this week turned up to train for the first time with the Brooklyn Nets as an official member of the team. Putting the last few months behind him, Simmons can be seen rocking up to training with not a cellular device in sight.
The excitement in the air has Instagram users like analyst Jordan Schultz quipping: “Nets as legit contenders, no doubt about it.”
For those ripping Ben Simmons for being at Nets practice and smiling anyone can smile and still deal with Mental Health— Ron Carthen (@rcarthen) February 15, 2022
You don’t know what everyone goes through
It also had commenters divided. Some were happy for him, and came to his defence, (see, remarks like: “that boy look happy” and “As a 6ers fan I hope nothing but the best for Ben Simmons”) and others took the Shaq approach, still hung up on what happened at the Sixers.
“Now he shows up to practice 😂” one Instagram user wrote, while another commented: “Imagine [if he] start hitting jumpers and he was trolling the whole time.”
“All the sudden he’s fine and can play basketball again. Such a baby,” said another.
Sportscasting reports that Brooklyn need to do 3 things to get Simmons playing well again: not ignore the mental health aspect of his recent troubles, get Ben Simmons with Kyle Korver, and let Simmons be what he is, not what the critics want him to be.
Given The Nets’ existing shooting power, Simmons could actually fit in quite well.