Ben Simmons hasn’t played in a single game for the Philadelphia 76ers this season after requesting a trade over the offseason, and as a result he has been on the receiving end of a good amount of criticism. During TNT’s Inside the NBA on Thursday night, Shaquille O’Neal went in on Simmons for a lack of accountability while simultaneously complimenting Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid for his ability to accept constructive criticism.
“I stay on big guys because I care about them. I want them to play a certain way, I want them to play at a certain level. The difference between [Embiid] and his soft partner [Simmons] is, he can take criticism without being a crybaby and he still wants to play,” O’Neal said. “Me and Charles, we’ve been on [Embiid] and we stay on him.
“We told him to his face what he needs to do. He didn’t cry, he didn’t say ‘I want to get traded’, he didn’t complain about mistreatment. And that’s the difference. That’s why I like and respect him. The other guy, I don’t respect him… Great players get criticized. But the great players also step up to the criticism and perform. So this other guy, I don’t respect him. I would get rid of him.”
You can see O’Neal’s complete comments below:
This isn’t the first time that O’Neal has publicly criticized Simmons, as he also said something similar before the season started.
“One, he’s not showing up. As a player, you have to be able to be real with yourself,” O’Neal said at the time. “You need to be aggressive and he definitely got exposed last year in the playoffs, he didn’t want to shoot. You have to look in the mirror and say ‘Am I as good as I can be?’ He’s going about it all wrong,
“He could have gone into the office, say ‘hey, my feelings are hurt. You guys didn’t stick up for me. I’d like to professionally ask for a trade.’ The question is, does anyone want him? I’m not paying $200 million for a guy who will not be aggressive and will not shoot in playoff time.”
O’Neal’s criticism of Simmons is fair, as the Sixers star has shown a serious lack of accountability since the end of last season. Ultimately though, O’Neal’s comments likely won’t have an impact on Simmons, who appears to be resolute in his plan to never suit up for the Sixers again, regardless of how much money it costs him, or how his approach harms his public perception.