The Ben Simmons saga continues unabated in New York City. Since the trade deadline, the Brooklyn Nets have been ramping Simmons up in hopes he'd be able to suit up this season. Last week, it seemed like they'd succeeded as reports surfaced that Simmons would be able to play Game 4 of the team's first-round series against the Boston Celtics. But the day after the Celtics won Game 3 and pushed the Nets to the brink of elimination, Simmons' back suddenly started acting up again and he'll be sidelined for Game 4.
From a neutral perspective, the move makes sense. Brooklyn hasn't been getting blown out of the water and all they need is a couple of superstar performances from Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to get back into the series, but no team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit. There's no real reason to risk aggravating a back injury in a desperate, last-second attempt to prolong the season for one or two more games.
However, Simmons has been under a very bright spotlight for good reason all year. The way the latest debacle unfolded has only increased the criticism about his priorities. Stephen A. Smith lambasted Simmons last night after the news initially broke that he wouldn't suit up for Game 4 and continued on Monday, saying Simmons "might be the weakest, most pathetic excuse of an athlete we've ever seen, not just in American history, but in the history of sports." Smith also said that Kyrie Irving may be selfish, but Simmons is much worse.
Tell us how you really feel, Stephen!
Whatever else that might come of the Simmons situation in Brooklyn, it's been a boon for daytime sports talk television. It's exactly the kind of fodder that personalities like Stephen A. feast upon and can squeeze days' worth of content from. It was a sensitive topic when mental health was at stake but now that Simmons has apparently thrown that aspect of his struggle out the window and it's only about his injury, it's open season.
The only way to get everybody to shut up is to play and dominate. It seems Simmons would rather sign up for another summer of never-ending criticism instead.