Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal scorned Ben Simmons for not stepping up for the 76ers during the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
What We Know:
- Simmons, one of the main players of the Philadelphia 76ers, faced plenty of criticism after the team lost to the Atlanta Hawks. Throughout Sunday’s game, he scored five points in 35 minutes. Alongside this, he was 2-for-4 from the field and 1-for-2 from the foul line. During the fourth quarter, he scored one point from the foul line but did not hold a field-goal attempt. However, his help did not get the team very far, as they lost the game 103-96.
- Additionally, Simmons ended the semifinals with an average of 9.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game. The player knows he did not try his best and acknowledged this during a press conference.
“I ain’t shoot well from the line this series… Offensively, I wasn’t there. I didn’t do enough for my teammates. … There’s a lot of things that I need to work on,” Simmons told reporters via ESPN.
- Simmons also told the press he would take the offseason to relax and work on possible mental obstacles.
- Despite Simmons taking accountability for his poor playing, O’Neal did not hold back. Prior to their loss, O’Neal spoke to Simmons and told him to “man up” on Saturday night. After Sunday’s loss, he did not accept any excuses from Simmons.
- He believes Simmons needed to take the necessary steps to help the team earlier in the series. For example, O’Neal implied Simmons took the games for granted by not clearing his mind prior to the games.
“It don’t take seven games for you to know that you’re not playing right, get right. He didn’t get double-teamed, just be aggressive, that’s all I want. I don’t want to hear all that, stop that,” O’Neal said.
- The TNT analyst also made a shocking comment when discussing Simmons’ playing. He declared if he played on Simmons’ team, he would “have knocked his a** out.”
- Most of O’Neal’s disappointment comes from the fact that Simmons was the National Basketball Association (NBA)’s no. 1 draft pick in 2016. Someone who the NBA expected to bring home championships should not play so poorly, especially in a crucial period for the team.
The 76ers last appeared in the NBA Finals and Eastern Conference Finals in 2001. Many believed the team purposely lost their games to acquire Simmons’ talents. As of right now, it is uncertain if the 76ers will keep Simmons on the team after his lack of participation in the semifinals.