With the release of “Untold: Malice at the Palace” last week, former Pacers Jermaine O’Neal and Ron Artest (formerly known as Metta World Peace, now going by Metta Sandiford-Artest) have been in the spotlight as guests on podcasts with numerous sports hosts and personalities. For the most part, these appearances are opportunities to provide further context on the documentary’s message about their 2004 brawl intends to impart, as the whole back story is naturally impossible to cover within the one hour and nine minutes of the film’s duration.
Metta recently guested on Shannon Sharpe’s “Club Shay Shay” to talk about the documentary and the incident’s fallout. In the process of discussing challenges with the mental aspect of the game, a topic we associate very closely with Metta, the conversation drifted into one of today’s hottest topics, Ben Simmons.
“Ben needs to learn how to live with the butterflies. I always had butterflies before every game. That’s why in the finals, I went to see my therapist. I knew I wasn’t strong enough, so I got help. I was no longer afraid to shoot. “Metta Sandiford Artest, Club Shay Shay
Ben Simmons’ shooting woes may be slightly different from Metta’s, as the latter was a good shooter in his playing days but often struggled with keeping his emotions and focus in check. Simmons entered the league labeled a bad shooter, and the jump shot is the only missing element to his game. If Ben learns how to shoot the ball consistently, some believe he might be the next LeBron James. That is how good Ben is, so to devalue him as a player because he cannot shoot is an oversimplification of the point. The events that have transpired between Simmons and the rest of the Sixers organization now look like moves orchestrated by agent Rich Paul to try and tell the world something. It now seems like an unlikely detective in one Metta World Peace has figured it out.
“You gotta breakthrough whatever you got going on mentally. Every athlete has been through it, where they had to seek therapy. Sports therapy is the most amazing thing ever, and he (Ben) should really seek it. Sports therapy is normal, and he should consider it.”Metta Sandiford Artest, Club Shay Shay
Perhaps this is what Ben and his camp have been trying to say all along. It’s not simply about planning how to work on his jump shot so he can take and hopefully make these shots consistently in games, but something more profound. Think about it. The media has long been pitting Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid against each other, rooting for them to fail. No one ever talks about how they can make it work, but the sentiment is that Philadelphia needs to pick one of them to build around, or they’re just wasting their time with this experiment.
By his standards, LeBron James had a dismal 2011 finals series against the Dallas Mavericks, scoring just six points in one of the games that the Miami Heat lost. James was already considered the best player in the league at that time and had a bit of a meltdown in his first finals series with the Heat; it was painful to watch. Yet, with the whole world taking shots at him and his team, Dwyane Wade and the rest of the team rallied around their star and made sacrifices so they could be in a position to best support LeBron. The Heat then won back-to-back titles and quite frankly could have won a three-peat if the roster was able to stay healthy.
Philadelphia did the exact opposite. Joel Embiid, who played great despite his injury limitations, is not to be absolved of any fault in the collapse of the Sixers. He did not have the conditioning to deliver in the fourth quarter of games against the Hawks and even made several costly turnovers down the stretch in the game the Sixers got eliminated. In a post-game presser, he pointed to Ben passing on a dunk or layup as the turning point in the game versus acknowledging his turnovers down the stretch when the game was still within reach.
Ben’s coach, Doc Rivers, said that he didn’t know if he could win a championship with Simmons as his starting point guard. True or not, that’s something you keep in-house instead of saying to the media so that the public can find a scapegoat for the type of collapse that Rivers has become famous for these days.
It is clear now that Ben Simmons needs to work on his game to make his contributions worth the millions of dollars he is getting paid to play the game, but Philadelphia is certainly not the place for him to do that anymore. His teammate and coach abandoned him and threw him under the bus; why should Simmons go back and join them?
Metta is right, Ben should consider sports therapy because it is a great way to cut out the noise perpetuated on the internet these days. However, the challenge for Ben is that the noise is not just online but in the Philadelphia 76ers locker room. Nobody should be penalized for wanting a fresh start because it always takes two to tango, and oftentimes, both sides of a split-up have some fault in the situation. It’s time for Ben to deal with what is going on in his head, and getting a therapist is the way to start, preferably one that is not based in Philly.