Jimmy Casey ‘22
Ben Simmons is amazing. He can do things on a basketball court that very few people in the world can replicate. Combine a freakish 6’11”, 240 pound frame with elite athleticism and an impressive basketball IQ and you’ve got Simmons. And while he hasn’t quite lived up to some of the lofty expectations placed on him coming into the league, Simmons has been a really good NBA player thus far, with a Rookie of the Year award, three All-Star appearances, two All-Defense selections, and one All-NBA season to show for it. He also finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting last season, with many people (including me) believing he should’ve won the award.
But he has one glaring and highly publicized weakness – shooting. His lack of shooting has been extremely detrimental to both his and his team’s success, especially come playoff time. In the 2021 postseason, Simmons shot a historically bad 34% from the free throw line. To make matters worse, Simmons wasn’t even attempting shots by the end of the Sixers’ playoff run. The infamous play in which Simmons passed up a wide-open dunk down the stretch of their Game 7 loss to the Hawks is seared into every Sixers fan’s head, including my own… and that’s likely the last and most prominent memory that Philadelphia will have of Ben Simmons.
According to reports, Simmons requested a trade shortly after the end of Philadelphia’s playoff run. As a Sixers fan, my initial thoughts were something along the lines of “Okay, good for him. It’s probably for the best anyway.” I, like many, came to the realization that he just wasn’t going to work in Philadelphia, for better or for worse. Yet, I did not expect the divorce to be this ugly. Reports indicate that Simmons doesn’t want to play another game in a Sixers uniform. Despite personal financial implications, Simmons has remained steadfast in this position and hasn’t yet shown up to Philadelphia’s facility. My question is why?
As I mentioned before, Simmons wasn’t good in last season’s playoffs. He played nothing near a superstar level. In fact, he was a total offensive liability for a Sixers team that badly needed him to step up. So, why does he expect to be treated like a superstar? Biases aside, I think what he’s doing is an abuse of what many are calling the “Player Empowerment Era.” Players should have the autonomy to sign contracts with different teams, do what they’d like, and so on. But to do what Simmons has done to the Sixers franchise isn’t justified by that concept. He failed to do his job – albeit a very challenging one – and now he’s punishing the team for it. I wish Simmons all the best in the future, but for now I pose the question: What are you doing?
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