Sports

Ben Simmons’ stark admission on dunk failure, shooting issues and mental health




Ben Simmons has approached his infamous failed dunk and subsequent exit from Philadelphia with rare candor as the Aussie nears an NBA return with Brooklyn.

The 26-year-old missed all of last season following a messy crash in Philadelphia, and was eventually traded to the Nets in a deal that saw James Harden head to the 76ers.

Simmons spoke about the experience to former teammate JJ Redick on his The Old Man & the Three podcast, detailing his battle with mental health, his back injury, his trade request and the build-up of tension that has led to his decision not to dunk against Atlanta in the Game 7 Finals loss to the Hawks.

“I think, ‘OK, fast pass, he (teammate Matisse Thybulle) will flush it out’, not knowing how much space there was,” he said.

“I was just like, ‘OK, f**k, now we have to go play another game’.

“I didn’t realize how much everyone was posting (on social media); I say to myself: ‘It was that big?’.

“It looks terrible… when I look at it now I’m like, ‘Man, I should have kicked that fucking shit.

“I can live with this (but) everyone is trying to kill me in one piece.”

Simmons reached a settlement after the 76ers withheld nearly $20m (A$30m) from his salary for not playing, with the three-time All-Star citing mental health issues.

He said the public mockery of his shooting struggles unknowingly triggered those demons.

“It started to pile up and I’m like, ‘They say I can’t. Shouldn’t I? I’m confused now,” he said.

“It pissed me off a lot.

“You hear it all the time from everyone. You’re like, ‘Drop my case. I do other stuff too. I keep the best players… I don’t think people respect that enough.

Simmons told the podcast that coach Doc Rivers and some teammates failed to offer the support he needed when he wasn’t mentally prepared to play, forcing him to practice after asking for a trade and arriving. late to their 2021 training camp.

“It seems like everyone is just trying to play me now,” he recalled.

“I get fined for not lifting weights, but physically I’m one of the strongest guys on the team.

“Obviously I didn’t handle things the right way. But neither did the team, and the people who had that power.

Simmons clarified that his practice jersey, not a phone, was in his pocket when cameras captured him working out during his only full session with the Sixers last season.

And he said his back problem, which eventually required surgery after he couldn’t prepare for a raunchy debut with the Nets, was first suffered “while climbing stairs”.

Simmons is expected to dress for opening night next month for a Brooklyn team that can still call on stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, as well as fellow Australian Patty Mills, on the roster.



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