Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons hasn't played a single game all season. Why? He wants to be traded. Why? Because after a dismal postseason in 2021 in which Simmons shot 34.2 percent from the free throw line before being fired by the Atlanta Hawks in the second round, Simmons rightly received tons of criticism from fans of the postseason. NBA, the national media, local news stations, your own coach, and even mainstream celebrities. Simmons can't stand the heat.
He wants a fresh start somewhere where he can just play catch and not worry about internet trolls. Is it too much to ask?
According to Shaquille O'Neal, he absolutely is.
The former MVP and four-time NBA champion called Simmons a "crybaby" for the way he acted, stating that while all players are criticized, truly great players accept criticism, learn from it and improve. They don't "sit down an entire season and ask to be traded." In the video, Shaq claims that he and TNT NBA co-star Charles Barkley have criticized numerous players to their faces, including 76ers forward and 2021 NBA MVP finalist Joel Embiid. While Embiid took the criticism in stride, Simmons made like a hermit crab and tried to hide in his shell away from all the bad guys who were making fun of his pathetic jump shot.
Simmons didn't take Shaq's criticism too seriously, and a week later, the Aussie jumped into Shaq's DMs on social media to air complaints about him. O'Neal explained the situation on "The Big" podcast, stating that Simmons was upset that Shaq would call a fellow LSU Tiger. Shaq responded by stating that Simmons should be on the floor helping his teammate, Embiid, advance to the MVP award and the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
Simmons' decision to sit out doesn't help anyone, including Simmons, whose trade value has dropped tremendously since the end of the 2021 season. All of Simmons' actions have made it harder for the 76ers to win (arguably) and throw a negative light on himself. If Simmons really wanted to prove all of his enemies wrong, he would have worked on his jump shot this offseason and. you know, made some shots. That's the best way to call out the haters, but to hide and refuse to do anything? That's something little kids do and it's called a tantrum.
O'Neal has every right to call out Simmons for his actions, and by retaliating the way he did, Simmons only proved O'Neal's point of view. He can't handle criticism. He is too concerned about what other people think of him, and is so soft that he can't even accept advice from someone who has been through a similar situation for many years.
Shaq's time with the Los Angeles Lakers was defined by championships. Yes, he and Kobe Bryant may not have gotten along all along, but the two of them managed and shared all the glory together out of a love of the game and a mutual interest in winning titles. Shaq acknowledged that his relationship with Kobe may even have damaged the Lakers team, and if he could go back and do it all over again, he would. "I realized this after I left Los Angeles," O'Neal said on the podcast. “I don't want to spend my entire career fighting for a useless title. 'Shaq you're the man. Shaq, this is your team.' Actually, what the hell does all that mean? It does not mean anything. I could have won eight, nine championships with that guy [Kobe Bryant] instead of us both arguing about whose team it is."
Shaq has more experience in all departments than Simmons, aside from playing for the Australian national team; Simmons has the advantage there. You'd think O'Neal would be one of the people Simmons would turn to for advice on how to handle the situation he's currently in, but no. Instead, Simmons would rather go after Shaq for hurting his feelings and (probably) muttering statements like "You don't know what you're talking about" when, in fact, Shaq knows very well.
Maybe that's why no team wants to trade him for him. Maybe that's why even as Philly's asking price has gone down and down and down as the trade deadline approaches, no team is willing to add him to their squad.