It has been over a month since we last saw Ben Simmons play in an NBA game, and though our last memories of him on the floor may not be pretty, a month is more than enough time to get over a bad performance in the playoffs. Still, NBA fans seem to have an ax to grind with the young star from Australia, constantly badgering him on social media, citing his terrible free-throw shooting. Related or not, Ben decided to do the smart thing by deactivating his social media accounts for a few weeks to get away from all the noise that resides online.
Ben recently returned to Instagram just in time for this 25th birthday and put out a post to celebrate. As expected, fans took to the comments section to remind Ben of his failures from over a month ago with comments that did not resemble any sort of birthday greeting. The current dynamic between fans and players born from the dawn of social media is definitely more challenging for the latter. These days public figures have to strive to do no wrong, but when playing competitive sports, that is impossible.
Basketball is dynamic, and the NBA schedule requires that you show up to play in front of fans multiple nights in a week to deliver your best performance. Even the best players have bad games, the best shooters have off-nights, and the most hardworking players have days where their body just doesn’t respond. The true greats do more than just score the ball; they control the game to the best of their ability because you can’t make every correct play. Ben did not play well on offense, but let us not pretend that he failed to impact the game in other ways. Yet, the basketball world crucifies him for not having the skill that we find to be most entertaining.
One player who understands this probably more than most is Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green. Dray is a player who has put on fantastic scoring performances earlier in his career that has seen his ability to score the ball plummet yet remains one of the most respected players in the NBA. Green, a Klutch Sports client like Simmons, took to the comments section to provide the young star with some perspective.
“Man stop letting these people get in your head. Enjoy your birthday, basketball ain’t go nothing to do with it, so don’t let them intertwine life & basketball for you. Enjoy our life & enjoy hoop. You have earned everything you have! Happy born day brotha!”@moneygreen23, Instagram comment on @bensimmons
Draymond Green once shot just shade under forty percent for three in his career, and it’s no coincidence that this was when the Warriors finished the regular season 73-9 while getting within moments away from winning an NBA championship. Draymond has averaged 27.5% from beyond the arc in the past two seasons and has reached a point where he just refuses to shoot the ball from a distance. Still, Green remains one of the most impactful players in the league by being exceptional at all other aspects but shooting. Ben never had much of a jump shot, but that doesn’t mean he was never effective. Simmons is now a two-time all-star and was a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year honors this season, so to say he needs a jumper is simply missing the point.
The message from Dray is simple – enjoy the game and enjoy your life because keeping those two things exclusive is the secret to success for most public figures these days. Social media allows fans to make personal attacks on public figures without ever having to face any consequences; many fans sadly take full advantage of this opportunity. Play your game, live your life, and if it does not align with your team’s goals and style of play, then perhaps it’s time to move on to a place where it will.
Basketball is a team sport, so to say Ben’s shortfalls are purely the reason for Philadelphia‘s playoff disappointment is an oversimplification of the matter. If Philly decides to trade Ben Simmons this summer, it should not be because he is a bad player but because the team was a bad fit. Perhaps, finally realizing this truth will be what truly sets them free. Like Draymond said, enjoy life and enjoy hoop, and parting ways might be the best way for both Philly and Ben Simmons to be able to do so.