Ben Simmons has come under heavy criticism after the Nets ruled him out for Monday's Game 4 against the Boston Celtics, despite reports about his potential return to help his team salvage their season.
"That's a punk move"
"If you're not ready to play, you will get more respect from the people if you say 'I'm not ready to play,'" Shaq said. "Don't say nothing else, don't be shooting and saying 'I'm coming back, Imma do this.' That was a punk move, Reggie's absolutely right."
Being 3-0 down in the series, the Nets need all the help they can get. But it doesn't seem they'll be getting it from their All-Star point guard, who is yet to make his debut for the team.
After weeks of dealing with back soreness, it seemed the 25-year-old would be ready to suit up for the Nets in their potential elimination game. But after Saturday's workout, contrary to expectations, Simmons wasn't pain-free.
Given the situation his team is in, everyone expected Ben to suck it up and play. Shaq sure was one of them, and he's not letting Simmons get away with this one.
"I think you should step up to the challenge and help your team win," O'Neal said. "But no, he went to, you know the punk move, 'I'm not gonna play, my back hurt,' but we all know what that is. Ballers know what that is, everybody else could be 'Oh he's not ready,' but us, guys that live this life, we know exactly what you doin' buddy. You know I know."
Shaq is back on Simmons' case
Months ago, during the peak of the Ben Simmons saga, Shaquille promised to get off Simmons' case after the then-76er sent him angry DMs. The Hall of Famer, one of his loudest critics up to that point, had a change of heart, saying there was more to how Ben handled the situation than meets the eye.
Fast forward to today, O'Neal is saying the same thing. But this time, the thing hiding behind Simmons' absence isn't something to be compassionate about.
The Nets' season is on the line, and Ben isn't ready to throw himself into the fire.
Back soreness is probably still there, but the thing that's holding Simmons back the most is (once again) his head; hence why he isn't even ready to give his team an extra spark and try to get them back into the series.
Simmons already gave up on the season. He might've even given up on his NBA career. And that's not the type of guy you want to have in your locker room, especially when two other superstars, in spite of all of their quirks, are aiming for an NBA title.