Shaq defends Ben Simmons critiques, says criticism part of being NBA player

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Shaquille O’Neal and Ben Simmons’ feud took another turn over the last few days as both players fired remarks back at each other over critiques the Los Angeles Lakers legend made about the Brooklyn Nets guard.

Simmons appeared on “The Old Man and the Three” podcast last week and opened up to J.J. Redick about his mental health issues, giving up a shot in the 2021 NBA playoffs and his exit from the Philadelphia 76ers. 

Simmons acknowledged he reached out to O’Neal amid the chaos that was going on in his life and said he wished the Basketball Hall of Famer and other analysts would have done more.

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Ben Simmons of the Brooklyn Nets warms up before a game against the 76ers on March 10, 2022, at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
(Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

O’Neal denied ignoring Simmons’ issues.

“First of all, if you play at 9:30 and we come on at 10 and we say something, it’s just what we see,” O’Neal said in the latest episode of “The Big Podcast with Shaq.” “The mental health thing ain’t come out until everybody start bashing you, then you let people know you have mental health problems… I told the world, ‘He DM’d me, he told me he was going through some problems and I said I was gonna back off.’”

O’Neal said he told Simmons in the message chain that people don’t know what’s going on because he isn’t talking. He said he just speaks on “what he knows” and is trying to bring the young talent in the NBA to the next level. He said he saw in Simmons that the guard “was scared.”

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“Guess what? Everybody goes through struggles. We all do. Everybody goes through struggles. We all do. But this is the game we play. This is the life we live. We ‘gon take criticism. They pay us a lot of money. Somehow, you have to deal with it.

Former NBA player Shaquille O'Neal attends the unveiling of the Shaq Courts at the Doolittle Complex donated by Icy Hot and the Shaquille O'Neal Foundation in partnership with the city of Las Vegas on Oct. 23, 2021, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Former NBA player Shaquille O’Neal attends the unveiling of the Shaq Courts at the Doolittle Complex donated by Icy Hot and the Shaquille O’Neal Foundation in partnership with the city of Las Vegas on Oct. 23, 2021, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
(Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Icy Hot)

“Now, I’m gonna talk about the mental health thing. I know that’s a real thing and, again, this is the first time he’s talked in two years. I wish him well. I hope he does what he does. But listen, I come from the era where there’s no excuses. Same problem he has, you don’t think I had those problems? You don’t think the everyday man has those same problems? We all have those problems. But I found a way to overcome and persevere.”

O’Neal said he was doing his job as an analyst, giving criticism through a Hall of Fame basketball player’s point of view.

“Let me tell you something. I’m (gonna) always say what I say. And I’m (gonna) always give guys constructive criticism to get to the next level. Cause if you don’t want to get to the mountaintop of the Hall of Fame, I don’t give a damn. Either you wanna get there or you don’t,” he added.

NBA Legend Shaquille O'Neal speaks with Ben Simmons as part of NBA All-Star Weekend at the Staples Center on Feb. 16, 2018, in Los Angeles, California.

NBA Legend Shaquille O’Neal speaks with Ben Simmons as part of NBA All-Star Weekend at the Staples Center on Feb. 16, 2018, in Los Angeles, California.
(Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)

Simmons asked for a trade from Philadelphia prior to the start of the 2021-2022 season, finally getting his wish in February as part of a blockbuster deal that sent 10-time All-Star James Harden to the Sixers. 

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Brooklyn’s training camp begins Tuesday, Sept. 27.

Fox News’ Joe Morgan contributed to this reoprt.

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