The media have been feasting on the Ben Simmons situation for a while now. Any update becomes a hot topic and trends online. Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley are no different as they continue to question and criticize every Ben Simmons decision or move. Even if they are right, Gilbert Arenas shares why they shouldn't be the first to blast the Sixers star.
Arenas blasts unfair criticism towards Simmons
Gilbert Arenas spent some time with Ben in the summer and saw firsthand how much Simmons worked on his game. He supports the wantaway forward, even offering how he would coach him in the stalemate with Philadelphia. Arenas claimed Simmons could actually shoot, contrary to what's reported by the media that the 3-time All-Star refused to improve his game in the offseason. For Agent Zero, the disparaging comments need to stop.
In an interview with Etan Thomas for "The Rematch" podcast, Arenas shared that fans and reporters are looking at Ben in the wrong way. You can find Thomas' story and thoughts on Basketball News.
“Because they're looking at the basketball player, Ben Simmons. So I don't think people separate the basketball player from the human. Right? And once a Shaq or Charles Barkley say it, it becomes law. In fact, they were the same. If they want to call him a primadonna, you were the same primadonna when you were the man.”
Gilbert Arenas, ">The Rematch
Gilbert rightly pointed out that Shaq also went through the same process as Simmons. The Orlando Magic had Penny Hardaway and a young O'Neal in their lineup. They failed to win a championship, and then Shaq went to the Lakers. There were allegations that O'Neal got jealous of Penny, and the front office law-balled him while offering a bigger deal to Hardaway. The context may be different, but for Arenas, the 1999-2000 MVP should have been more understanding of the Sixers' forward.
What Arenas failed to recognize
Arenas may have a point that when it comes to athletes, fans quickly forget they are humans, too. But that doesn't mean he's right about Shaq and Chuck.
Inventing stories or creating clickbait is one thing; calling a spade a spade is another. Here are some facts: Simmons failed to report to training camp early, refused to participate in drills, and claimed he was not mentally ready yet.
TV personalities such as O'Neal and Barkley are paid to air their opinions, no matter how controversial they may be. Just because O'Neal and Barkley had issues with teams in the past does not disqualify them from talking about current players and their conflicts with teams. The reason we trust them is precisely because they walked in those shoes.
Simmons had the chance to flip the narrative about him, but he wasted it. If the media painted him as a spoiled brat, sulking when he did not get what he wanted, he should have opted to be a professional. Playing the right way and showing what he could do on the floor gets his trade stocks up. With the way he acted, he only scared the teams into trading for him.
Arenas and Simmons can't blame Shaq or Barkley for their criticisms. Some of them are just the consequences of Ben's ill-advised decisions. Instead of attacking Charles and Shaq, he should advise Ben to suit up and play when he's ready to prove everyone wrong about him.