Video: Shaq Unloads On Ben Simmons
Shaquille O’Neal has unleashed on beleaguered Sixers star Ben Simmons. Simmons has refused to play for the Sixers all season, reportedly because of a critical answer his coach gave media months ago about his performance after a poor playoff game.
Sixers coach Doc Rivers’, after Philadelphia was eliminated from the playoffs by the Hawks last year, was asked by a journalist if he believed Simmons could be point guard on a championship team. “I don’t even know the answer to that right now,” Rivers said.
Since then there has been something of a standoff, with Simmons refusing to play, requesting a trade, and being fined millions of dollars for his refusal to play. On top of that, a new report by ESPN claims Simmons is “upset” with his teammate Joel Embiid over “critical postgame comments” he made after the same game.
These comments didn’t directly call out Simmons, but did reference an error he made. According to ESPN, Simmons is frustrated that his coach Rivers didn’t come to see him while he was training in Los Angeles last summer (after the controversy causing comment was made).
Also according to ESPN, Simmons doesn’t deny that he did not reply when Rivers contacted him several times over the summer to meet up. But ESPN claims Simmons still felt the coach and the organization should have done more, like come in person to one of his training sessions.
Those excuses, it seems, sound pretty weak to American former professional basketball player, sports analyst and one of the greatest NBA centres of all time, Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq recently shared his thoughts on Simmons’ holdout from the team on his podcast.
“Let me tell you why I’m pissed off,” Shaq said. “Magic paved the way for Mike. They wasn’t making no money. Mike paved the way for me to get all that bread I was getting. I payed the way for Garnett. Ben Simmons is messing the money up.” He added: “First of all they already think we’re spoiled, they already think we don’t deserve it, you making 40 million dollars and the only reason why you’re not playing is because your coach called you out.”
“You making us look bad. I’ve been in this moment many times… I didn’t go [make excuses], you acting like a baby. So he [Simmons] got in my DM and said some things and I said some things back.”Shaquille O’Neal
Shaq then said he couldn’t reveal exactly what was said in the DMs. But he said the gist of it was that he told Simmons he was leaving his team mates hanging and that he needed to play.
Shaq also said: “He went to LSU. I care about him. I want to see him succeed. I want to see all these young [guys] succeed.”
Shaq also, on another occasion, said: “The difference between him and his soft partner is he can take criticism without being a crybaby and he still wants to play.”
Simmons’ coach Rivers clarified his comments (about whether or not the Sixers could win a championship with Simmons) in a September appearance on “ESPN’s “First Take” and said he does believe Philadelphia could win with Simmons.
Simmons has been working out privately at the Sixers’ practice facility in Camden, N.J., “and attends team shootarounds and film sessions to avoid being fined even more,” The New York Post reports.
It’s rumoured Simmons has been fined more than $19 million since the start of the season and could lose $12 million more if he doesn’t play the rest of the year.
That doesn’t seem to be Simmons’ focus, however, with a source close to him allegedly telling ESPN: “We don’t give a f–k about the money.” Simmons has also suggested there is a mental health element to his decision not to play.
The report by ESPN also delves into a number of other issues Simmons supposedly has with the 76ers, including the team having discussions about dealing him for James Harden after the trade deadline last year.