Ben Simmons is gearing up to make his first appearance with the Brooklyn Nets this upcoming season after failing to take the court at any point last season. As he prepares to return to the court, he also returned to the media for the first time awhile and joined his old teammate JJ Redick on his podcast, the Old Man and the Three, to discuss some of the stories that he has seen himself caught up in over the past year or so.
Ben Simmons explained his decision to pass up a wide-open layup in Game 7, and Shaquille O’Neal did not like it
One of the things Simmons discussed on Redick’s podcast was his decision to pass up a wide-open layup in Game 7 of the 2021 Eastern Conference semifinals and pass the ball to his teammate Matisse Thybulle, who promptly got blocked on his layup attempt. Simmons said he saw someone’s jersey (it happened to be Trae Young, but he didn’t know) and decided to get rid of the ball, but later admitted that he made the wrong call to pass in that situation.
It wasn’t the most convincing argument from Simmons, and O’Neal certainly isn’t buying it. Shaq has been critical of Simmons over the past year - calling his decision not to play against the Celtics “a punk move,” referring to him as a “cry baby,” ripping into him with Barkley saying “he ain’t that good” and saying that if he were his teammate he’d “knock his ass out.”
Simmons clapped back at Shaq on JJ’s podcast, saying that if O’Neal were truly his LSU brother, he wouldn’t have publicly talked about Simmons reaching out to him privately. Shaq obviously wasn’t impressed and returned the conversation to basketball, and Simmons’ explanation of the missed dunk.
“That’s an excuse. I don’t give a damn if Michael Jordan is on your back. I don’t give a damn if T-Mac, with Yao Ming and me, is on your back. You throw it down, it’s the playoffs, you are trying to advance, I don’t want to hear that. I don’t want to hear no excuses,” Shaq said on The Big Podcast.
Shaquille O’Neal doesn’t care for Ben Simmons’ excuses
While Simmons’ explanation for the play is what he believes happened, it’s clear that he made the wrong play and even admitted his mistake on Redick’s podcast. There’s not much he can do to fix the issue now, and while he may be simply offering his perspective on the play, O’Neal believes that Simmons is trying to make up excuses for his egregious mistake.
It also hasn’t helped Simmons’ case that he’s largely avoided the spotlight for the past year or so, meaning he’s had time to think about what he says when he’s asked about this play for some time now. Had he owned up to it in the immediate aftermath, maybe the public perception would be different, but for now, it’s tough to take Simmons’ comments at face value.
Shaq hasn’t been shy in being critical of Simmons for how he’s handled the past year or so of his NBA career, and it looks like he will continue to do so until he gets back on the court and proves he can still play. Simmons has a lot to prove in his return to the court with the Nets this season, and it looks like O’Neal may be on the list of people he will have to win back over with his play on the court.