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Ben Simmons podcast, Boston Celtics criticism messed up NBA star, Brooklyn Nets news

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Ben Simmons has bared his soul like never before following 15 months in the NBA wilderness.

The Aussie star has addressed all of his most controversial episodes in a new podcast appearance released on Friday morning (AEST).

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Simmons was a guest on former 76ers teammate JJ Redick’s The Old Man and the Thee podcast and revealed how significantly criticism has impacted him during his career.

Simmons has fought a very public battle with mental health in recent years following his departure from Philadelphia and reached a settlement surrounding his former team’s refusal to pay his $20 million salary, despite the 26-year-old insisting he was unable to play for mental health reasons.

Simmons has now revealed how public mocking from Eastern Conference rivals Boston surrounding his shooting struggles started a snow-ball reaction on his downwards spiral.

He said of the criticism: “I didn’t really realise that early on in my career.

“This started building up and I’m like, ‘They’re saying I can’t. Should I not? I’m f***ing confused now’.”

“It did f*** with me a lot. But I kind of found peace in a place where I’m just like f*** it, it’s basketball.”

He also said of the criticism of his shooting: “I think for a while it was just so repetitive.

“You’re hearing it all the time from everybody. You’re like, f***ing hell, get off my case. Like, I do other stuff too. I’m guarding the best players. That’s one thing, I don’t think people respect that enough, like what I’m bringing to the court because there’s a lot of s*** I’m bringing to the court.”

He said those mental demons were already in his head before the infamous Eastern Conference play-offs series against Atlanta last year. The NBA world is still confused as to why a player with all of his weapons fell apart in the postseason so spectacularly.

Simmons now-famously refused to take an open dunk in the fourth quarter of the Game 7 and teammate Joel Embiid and coach Doc Rivers appeared to throw him under the bus in the aftermath of their elimination.

Simmons said the reaction “killed me”.

“It got to a point where after that [Hawks] series, it’s like from the people you’re supposed to have that support from or that comfort from, I wasn’t getting that either so it was a toll on me,” he said.

“Then mentally, it killed me. I was like, f***, no energy for anything, like I was in a dark place.

“The first thing for me was really identifying that I got to get right. It’s not a physical thing, it’s mentally. I think that first thing of acknowledging it is a huge step for me. I need to address this, I need help in these areas. Being able to do that, that was the start of getting to where I’m at now. I’m in a great place and I feel comfortable talking about it now.”

Simmons gives his side of story on lay-up that could have been

Ben Simmons famously went into his shell in the final quarter of his career with the Sixers — the Game 7 loss to Atlanta — and nothing summed it up more than the open lay-up he turned down. He dropped a pass to Matisse Thybulle instead and the crucial bucket never happened.

He now sees he made a mistake.

It happened so quick that you just make a read. In the playoffs, you need to make the right decisions the majority of the time.

“For that moment, bro, it happened and I was just like, ‘OK, f***, now we got to go make another play.’ That’s how I’m thinking and I didn’t realise how everyone is posting like it’s that big?”

“When I look at it now, I’m like, ‘I should’ve just f***ing punched that s***,’” Simmons said.

“But it didn’t happen, and I was OK with that, I can live with that, I can live with everyone’s trying to kill me over one play. It’s as if everyone wants to watch film with me. Like, the whole arena. I can dissect everything if you guys want, but that’s not realistic.”

Simmons had stayed away from the 76ers all season to tend to his mental health. The Nets said that Simmons was OK mentally and will play once he is OK physically, too.

Simmons addresses Brooklyn play-offs no-show

Simmons was again torn apart by NBA commentators this year when he failed to play at all for the Nets.

A furore around Simmons exploded as Brooklyn were swept 4-0 in their first-round playoff series against Boston — a huge let-down for a team featuring superstars like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Simmons, who joined the Nets from Philadelphia in a blockbuster trade involving James Harden in February, didn’t play at all last season and came under heavy fire after failing to suit up for Game 4 against the Celtics, having targeted that match as a comeback.

The Aussie had been practising with the aim of returning to action but woke up on the morning of the game with back soreness and sat out as his team’s season ended early.

NBA players and pundits unloaded on Simmons for sitting out. American sportscaster Stephen A. Smith delivered the most brutal smackdown, saying Simmons “might also be the weakest, most pathetic excuse for a professional athlete we’ve ever seen in not just American history but the history of sport”.

He has since undergone back surgery.

Simmons described his star-studded Nets team as “Philly on steroids”.

He said he has no doubts about his ability to make an impact for the Nets next season and believes his body will also be ready.

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