Wednesday, February 1 2023
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Ben Simmons has had an underwhelming start to his tenure with the Brooklyn Nets, and it has reportedly led some of his own teammates — along with fans and pundits — to question his passion for the game. Simmons, though, swears his love of the game is there. It’s just the stuff around the game that he’s less passionate about. 

“I love the game. I love the game. Do I like all the bulls*t around it? No,” Simmons said, via the New York Post. “But I love the game and it comes with it. A lot of things come with being in this position. … But it is what it is. I love playing basketball and I love to work. Not every day is going to be perfect. Everyone has down days. But that’s life. Day by day, pushing through and getting better.

“It’s a roller coaster,” Simmons added. “You have good days. You have bad days. But it’s life, too. So you’ve just got to stick with it.” 

After missing all of last season due to mental and physical health issues, Simmons has already missed a handful of games this season, and he has looked like a shell of his former self when he has been out on the floor. He’s averaging career lows across the board and has recently been removed from the starting lineup. On the season, Simmons is averaging 6.1 rebounds, 5.8 points, and 5.6 assists in 26.6 minutes per game. 

When it comes to his slow start, Simmons points to the nerve injury that he dealt with last season and the ongoing recovery from that. 

“It takes time to build, especially with having a nerve injury,” Simmons said. “It takes 18 months for your nerves to fully heal. People don’t know that. But over time, you know, I get better and better. Just keep pushing.”  

Simmons isn’t the only one struggling. The Nets have been a major disappointment early on in the season. Many expected them to be a legitimate contender, but they currently sit 12th in the East with a 6-9 record through 15 games. So, with that backdrop, does Simmons feel any pressure to step his game up?

“I always have pressure on me. Everything I do,” Simmons said. “It’s just like when does it max out? There’s got to be some point where it’s just like, f**k. It is what it is at this point. I realize that. You have to feel something, too. You have to feel a little bit of pressure. That’s good.”  

The microscope on Simmons isn’t going away, and until he starts to play better, the Nets have a major problem. When they traded James Harden for Simmons in February, they expected All-Star-level production from Simmons. After all, he is getting paid like an All-Star. So far, though, that just hasn’t been the case. Perhaps he’ll get more comfortable on the floor as the season wears on, but the early returns haven’t been promising for Brooklyn. 



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