Shaquille O’Neal responded to Ben Simmons’ criticism that he left the LSU fraternity and did not support his mental health issues.
The NBA season is almost upon us and Shaquille O’Neal and Ben Simmons are doing a great job of putting some early fall drama on the table for us.
Simmons, after a really challenging year and a half, finally spoke about what he’s been through over the past 18 months or so on JJ Redick’s podcast The Old Man and the Three. Simmons spoke about his sanity, the trade from the Sixers to the Nets and what lies ahead.
In plain sight, the podcast makes you a little more sympathetic to what Simmons went through. When you finally hear his side of the story, it puts a lot of things into context that didn’t make sense before without all the details.
On the way, Shaquille O’Neal came forward and was immediately called by Simmons.
Shaquille O’Neal defended his actions towards Ben Simmons, saying he didn’t “let him down”
Shaquille O’Neal took the time for his podcast, The Great Podcast to answer Simmons and his claims about O’Neal.
As a refresher, Simmons claimed that O’Neal had left the LSU fraternity and left a chance to “do good”, when Simmons was going through mental health issues. Simmons called O’Neal and his co-host, Charles Barkley, “knowing.”
Here’s what O’Neal had to say in response:
“First of all, if you play at 9:30 and we come at 10:00 and we say something, it’s exactly what we see. The mental health issue doesn’t come out until everyone starts bashing you, then you let everyone know we have mental health issues… I told the world, I said he DM me, he told me he’s got some issues and I said I would go back.”
Shaq went on to say that the reason people weren’t able to get the full picture is that Simmons didn’t. give their the full picture. Shaq said, “I told him in the DM, ‘Okay, the reason people don’t know what’s going on is you don’t talk.”
While Shaq seemed to have some sympathy for Simmons and his mental wellbeing issues, O’Neal’s general tone was that he didn’t care about the excuses. He defended his approach as a critical analyst, saying he only wants to help players get better after being inducted into the Hall of Fame themselves. He sees that as his job.
“Let me tell you something. I always say what I say. And I always give guys constructive criticism to get to the next level. Because if you don’t want to go to the Hall of Fame mountaintop, I don’t give a damn. You want to get there or not.”
While that may seem harsh, let’s recall another incident. O’Neal and Barkley have been critical of Simmons’ former teammate, Joel Embiid in the past. Embiid embraced their challenge in 2019 and said he takes the feedback to heart:
If this doesn’t get you excited to see Simmons fire back on the field in 2022-23, then what will?