ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is prone to hyperbole, but you’re never left guessing where he stands on a topic.
Smith lambasted Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons after the team ruled him out for Game 4 against the Boston Celtics on Monday.
“I feel bad for anybody who was his teammate,” Smith said of the Simmons situation during halftime of Sunday’s Golden State-Denver game. “He quit on LSU. He quit on the Philadelphia 76ers. And now, he ain’t showing up for the Brooklyn Nets. We can point to all the excuses, all the rationale behind it that we want to. I do recall, despite him not playing, he still filed a grievance to collect $20 million that he has not earned.
“This is one of the most pathetic situations I’ve ever seen in my life. He ain’t going to war. He ain’t going into the octagon. He’s not going into the boxing ring. It’s pulling teeth to get this man to play basketball. It’s pathetic. It’s sad. And at the end of the day, when the NBA gets in the collective bargaining table, and they go after the players in terms of a pay for play stipulation in the collective bargaining agreement, it’s going to be called the Ben Simmons Rule.”
It was 46 seconds of fire from Smith.
There was chatter that Simmons targeted Game 4 for his season debut, but that’s not happening. Boston has dominated the series and has a 3-0 series lead.
Simmons has been a topic of controversy in the NBA all season, starting with his request for a trade from Philadelphia, refusal to show up for training camp and citing his mental health as a reason he was unable to play for the Sixers.
Philadelphia traded him to Brooklyn for James Harden at the trade deadline but Simmons hasn’t played because of back issues and has been working himself back into playing condition.
Smith wasn’t the only one to criticize Simmons.
Hall of Famer Reggie Miller implored Simmons to “man up.”