Australian NBA star Ben Simmons has had successful back surgery and will begin rehab in three weeks, aiming to make his Nets debut in the 2022-23 pre-season.
You’d be hard pressed to find a more talked about topic in the US sports media landscape this year than Australian NBA player Ben Simmons.
Or NBA benchwarmer, as he is probably more commonly described these days.
The Ben Simmons saga I can only compare to the plot of a choose-your-own-adventure book – depending on the day and whose story you choose to accept as fact, you end up with a different understanding.
The only portion of his story that I’m fairly sure is correct is that he was unhappy with Philadelphia, wanted to be traded, refused to train and play with the 76ers, finally gets his trade and still is yet to play this season.
On the flip side, the things I’ve read and heard about the Aussie which I have no idea the complete truth of never end.
He’s injured, he’s not injured. He’s selfish, he’s arrogant. He’s afraid, he’s a quitter. He’s got mental demons, he’s making excuses. He’s all about the money, not so much his teammates. The list goes on.
A simple search of his name on social media and you’ll see to what I’m referring. Some of the memes are equal parts clever and brutal.
His current team, the Brooklyn Nets, find themselves down 3-0 in a best-of-seven elimination series with the Boston Celtics.
If you read into the countless differing reports from ‘sources’, Ben, who has not played in a game since the 76ers’ bitter exit from the playoffs last year, was going to make his season debut for the Nets in Game 1 of this first-round series. Or was it Game 3 or 4? Or is it not at all, with reports now saying he’s got “back soreness” and is out again?
What is actually happening? Is he really physically injured? Does he really have “zero competitive fire”, as former NBA sharpshooter Reggie Miller tweeted today?
Is his mental health not in a place where he feels he can play? Does he even want to play basketball anymore? Is Ben Simmons alright?
These are all questions for which I have no answers for. I’ve officially got nothing. I am so baffled and confused at the entire situation that I felt the need to write down my thoughts.
From my perspective as purely a fan of the sport and Ben, it certainly seems like everybody in the NBA media has themselves a “source” telling them what Ben is doing or saying or feeling at every moment of every day.
It’s so hard trying to wade through the conflicting reports and opinions trying to make sense of what is fact and what is fiction. Ultimately, Ben himself is the only one who really knows.
If there’s one thing I am most assured of, it’s that the day I hear, “Starting at guard, 6’11” from Australia…” will be a good one for the game of basketball.
Or it will have everyone reaching for the popcorn at the very least.