Stephen A. Smith laid into Ben Simmons during the halftime show of Sunday’s game between the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets following the report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski indicating the Brooklyn Nets star will miss Game 4 on Monday after he “awoke with back soreness today.”
Wojnarowski reported on Friday that Simmons planned on playing, albeit 10 to 15 minutes.
Smith called Simmons a “quitter,” claiming he quit on his LSU team, the Philadelphia 76ers, and now the Brooklyn Nets.
“This is one of the most pathetic situations I’ve ever seen in my life. He ain’t going to war. He ain’t going into the octagon,” Smith said. “He’s not going into the boxing ring. It’s pulling teeth to get this man to play basketball. It’s pathetic. It’s sad. And at the end of the day, when the NBA gets in the collective bargaining table, and they go after the players in terms of a pay for play stipulation in the collective bargaining agreement, it’s going to be called the Ben Simmons Rule.”
Reggie Miller also chimed in on Twitter, calling out Simmons for having “ZERO competitive [fire].”
“Cmon MAN!!! Out for Game 4 when it was rumored you were going to make your debut. This dude has ZERO competitive [fire],” Miller wrote. “As small a chance as the Nets have to come back in this series, you still have KD and Kyrie, all you need is to win ONE game and take it from there.”
The last time Simmons spoke with reporters, he said his status was “day-to-day,” adding, “If I could play right now, I’d be on the court.”
Simmons’ lingering back issues are well-documented, but also quite alarming. Nets head coach Steve Nash confirmed last month that he had a herniated disc which required an epidural injection in order to provide “some relief” to the area. During his time with the Sixers, former head coach Brett Brown recalled seeing “as disturbing a memory as it relates to a player” when Simmons was dealing with a nerve impingement to his lower back.
“He’s lying on his back, he’s vomiting primarily because of pain,” Brown said. “Trying to get him back on the plane and build him back up to some level of health where he can play basketball again with us.”
The Nets will be staring down elimination from the playoffs on Monday, down 3-0 in their series against the Boston Celtics.