Don’t count on Ben Simmons swooping in to save the day as the once highly favorited Nets are currently on the brink of elimination.
Many insiders highly speculated that Simmons would make his triumphant return to the basketball court for Game 4 of the Nets vs. Celtics series. The news injected some much-needed hope into Nets fans who watched their team be handled quite easily by the Celtics since Game 1, where Kyrie Irving went off and flipped the Celtics fans the bird. While there was optimism about the return of the fragile guard, many were skeptical, and it looks like they were correct to feel that way.
Right before Game 3’s tipoff, it was announced by the Nets that Simmons would not play in Game 4 because he was experiencing “back soreness,” opening the floodgate from criticism from not only the usual suspect, Stephen. A Smith, but Basketball Hall-of-Famer Reggie Miller also questioned Simmons’ mental toughness.
“Cmon MAN!!! Out for Game 4 when it was rumored you were going to make your debut. This dude has ZERO competitive (fire emoji),” Miller wrote on Twitter. “As small a chance as the Nets have to come back in this series, you still have KD and Kyrie, all you need is to win ONE game and take it from there.. #ManUp.”
Stephen A. Smith didn’t bite his tongue talking about the Simmons news during halftime of the Denver Nuggets vs Golden State Warriors Game 4 matchup Sunday afternoon (Apr.24). He called it “one of the most pathetic situations that I’ve ever seen in my life.”
On Monday’s (Apr.25) of First Take, Smith doubled down on his disdain for Simmons, calling him the most selfish player he has ever seen, more than Kyrie Irving, who Smith also feels is selfish and was also dragged on the same episode.
NBA on TNT analysts Shaq and Charles Barkley also chimed in on the situation. O’Neal called Simmons’ decision not to play a “punk move,” and Barkley alluded to the Nets players now questioning if Simmons even wants to play anymore.
ESPN NBA analyst and former pro hooper Kendrick Perkins wrote on Twitter, “Ben Simmons has officially completed the biggest heist in NBA history. He really sat out an entire season! Carry on…”
Jay Williams, who is usually on the side of players, was even critical of Simmons’ unwillingness to step on the court to help the Nets. Williams said if Simmons was on his team, he “couldn’t look at him in the eyes.”
Now, who’s to say if the Nets pull off a miracle and come back from a 3-0 deficit and somehow advance Simmons won’t play, but based on his actions, don’t count on it. Also, it’s doubtful the Nets will beat the Celtics at this point with a clearly exhausted Kevin Durant playing like hot garbage and Kyrie Irving missing in action after his stellar Game 1 play.
You can peep more reactions to the continued Ben Simmons saga in the gallery below.
Photo: Maddie Meyer / Getty