A new report claims Ben Simmons is not a “sympathetic figure” within the Brooklyn Nets locker room, with teammates claiming there has been a “lack of attempt to play (and) effort to be in uniform” by the Australian this year.
Amid the torrent of criticism leveled at the former No.1 pick after the Nets’ were eliminated from the playoffs, losing 116-112 to be swept 4-0 by Boston — a report by The Athletic claims Simmons told the team his ongoing back problem may be related to a “mental block”.
A Nets source said, the team was told by Simmons that his mental issue may be a “trigger point” for his back pain flare-ups.
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It’s understood Simmons is still suffering trauma from the end of his time with Philadelphia which was sparked by a fourth quarter capitulation against the Hawks in the playoffs last season.
The Aussie is said to be committed to playing with the Nets but the report states the All-Star guard’s future is clouded within the Nets’ locker room because of his behavior this season.
Nets players reportedly claim the Australian has not given his all to be on the court, since he was reported to have met all the criteria for making his return after completing three consecutive game style five-on-five sessions.
He pulled up with back pain before his mooted comeback in game four.
It’s understood the Aussie’s choice of attracting to sit on the bench also irked teammates, with players reportedly wanting to see Simmons sitting alongside them in team uniform ready to play in case the team needed him during their playoffs battle against the Celtics.
The report comes amid a negative reaction stemming from his playoff no-show, with ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith describing Simmons as “the weakest, most pathetic excuse for a professional athlete” in the aftermath of his omission from game four.
Smith’s reaction sparked a fierce defense of Simmons by Hollywood actor Jamie Foxx, who called out the media personality for his comments, in a since deleted video.
“That is completely unfair,” Foxx said of Smith’s commentary. “Ben Simmons has a family. This man has people that love him and this man just plays basketball but to be dragged through the mud like this is unfair…
“And why is it you only go at basketball players … you [are] completely mute when it comes to the Tom Bradys [and] the Aaron Rodgers’ of the world … You get where I’m going … stop it, bruh, it’s out of bounds.”
Smith, who said he’s close friends with Foxx, responded: “Jamie Foxx knows better. He’s just highly protective of the black athlete, as he should be, because they deserve our protection in a lot of situations.
“Jamie Foxx knows good and damn well it ain’t got nothing to do with brotherhood for me. I protect brothers all the damn time, trust you me, it’s what I don’t say that proves my protection.
Smith continued: “I’m only supposed to be complimentary?” he asked. “I’m calling out to Kyrie [Irving] and a Ben Simmons because of their impact and effect on the black athlete.
“When you go to the collective bargaining table, and [the owners] use them as an example to try to minimize their contribution to players, that’s about those players. That’s about the black athlete.
“If I sit there and take a position on Colin Kaepernick, because I’m talking about how you didn’t strategise appropriately, I’m saying that I wish you had.
“I wish that you had embraced the support that everyone threw out there on your behalf when you were being blackballed, unfairly, by the NFL.”
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