The Ben Simmons situation began last summer and is still ongoing with the NBA trade deadline less than two weeks away. With Simmons declining to suit up in a Sixers uniform this season, Philadelphia fans have grown increasingly frustrated with and disappointed in the former first overall pick (to put it mildly). However, those feelings apparently even extend to individuals beyond the greater Delaware Valley who don’t have an emotional investment in the team.
During last night’s TNT studio show, Shaquille O’Neal was teed up to talk about Joel Embiid’s recent dominant stretch of play. Shaq praised Joel, but clearly also had something to get off his chest in regard to Ben Simmons, even if he doesn’t specifically mention Ben by name. Here is a video of his comments with a full transcription below:
Shaq just destroyed Ben Simmons after talking about Embiid’s dominance. pic.twitter.com/O1AfZzApys— Did The Sixers Win? (@DidTheSixersWin) January 28, 2022
“He’s doing what he’s supposed to do. He’s dominating. We/I stay on big guys because I care about them, I want them to play a certain way, I want them to play at a certain level. The difference between him and his soft partner is he can take criticism without being a crybaby, and he still wants to play. ‘Cause me and Charles, we’ve been on him, we stay on him, we tell him to his face what he needs to do. He didn’t cry, he didn’t say I want to be traded, he didn’t, you know, complain about mistreatment. And that’s the difference, that’s why I like him and respect him.
The other guy I don’t respect. I’ve been thinking about it. You’re missing the whole season because they asked your coach a question, ‘can we win without you,’ and your coach gave a funny answer. That should tell you, you need to get in the summertime and work on your game. You don’t think I haven’t been criticized by you guys and Stephen A. You don’t think I haven’t been criticized by LA media and New York media. Great players get criticized, but the great players also step up to the criticism and perform. So this other guy, I don’t respect him. I would get rid of him.”
Shaq isn’t always the most convincing analyst. Would Embiid currently be an above-average three-point shooter, with all that does to open up his own game and that of his teammates, if he had followed O’Neal’s previous “get in the post” advice to the letter of the law? Probably not. However, I’m sure plenty of Sixers fans relate to what Shaq is saying here. The “crybaby” characterization echoes Embiid’s “not here to babysit” remark from back in October. I should also point out Doc Rivers’ answer Shaq is referring to here wasn’t even as bad as he makes it out to be. Doc wasn’t asked whether a team could win without Ben; he was asked whether Ben could be a point guard on a championship team. There’s a middle ground where you could argue Simmons could play a pivotal role in helping a team win a title, but maybe point guard just isn’t the ideal position from which to do it.
What do you think? Was Shaq spot-on or did his comments go too far? Let us know in the comments.