“Be Aggressive”: Shaquille O’Neal Defends Past Criticism of Ben Simmons

Published 07/13/2021, 1:26 PM EDT
Jan 25, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) shoots in the second half against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports


The Philadephia 76ers got off to a good start this season but their run ended on a disappointing note. However, the criticism hit Philadelphia’s All-star Ben Simmons for his dwindling individual performance. He gave the analysts a lot of cues to talk about, but Shaquille O’Neal showcases a feeling of concern for the 24-YO guard.

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Ben Simmons attracted heavy judgment from all over the league after the 2021 postseason. His underperformance baffled everyone as the Sixers fell to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Semifinals Game 7. That match was the beginning of Simmons’ distorting image.

The play that became famous ever since was when Simmons passed on a dunk opportunity to his teammate in crucial clutch minutes of the match. Philadelphia simply departed from the league, not being able to handle Trae Young’s army.

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Shaquille O’Neal justifies his comments on Ben Simmons as friendly

Hall of Famer turned NBA analyst, Shaquille O’Neal was amongst the first ones to throw some words for Simmons. He had made certain comments about the Sixers’ star with his ‘Inside the NBA’ crew.

However, Shaq recently explained why he said so, on The Big Podcast. “When I’m going at Ben, it ain’t from a bad place. It’s from a place of leadership…As a friend, as someone that loves and respects the sport, if I see he need to do something to get to that next level, I’m gonna always say it. So, I was just saying about young fella, just be aggressive.”

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Jun 8, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) hangs on the rim after dunking against the Atlanta Hawks during the first quarter in game two of the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

A disappointing 2021 postseason for Simmons

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Ben Simmons averaged a mere 11.9 points, 8.8 assists, and 7.9 rebounds in this postseason. Without a doubt, it wasn’t Simmons’ year. Being one of the top players on the team, immense responsibility falls on him. But, he couldn’t take it well. His shooting abilities have entered the radar from here on as other players have a lot to say on the same.

Nonetheless, many have shown confidence in Simmons’ come back next year as a better leader. Do you think he will turn it around in the coming time?

WATCH THIS STORY: Atlanta Hawks vs Philadelphia 76ers Game 7 ECSF Highlights

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Pavni Ahuja

432 articles

Pavni Ahuja is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Housing a keen interest in sports journalism, she is pursuing an undergraduate Journalism degree from Christ University. Pavni is an ardent fan of the NBA, with prior district-level playing experience in basketball.

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