Shaquille O’Neal had some harsh criticism for Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons before Joel Embiid’s 26-point performance in a win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.
O’Neal again took issue with Simmons choosing to sit out during the season and said the 76ers player was running from critical assessments of his play instead of facing it head-on and working on his game. The Basketball Hall of Famer said if it was up to him, Simmons would be gone.
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“The difference between” Simmons and Embiid, O’Neal said, “is that [Embiid] can take criticism without being a crybaby and he still wants to play, because me and Charles (Barkley), we’ve been on him. We stay on him. We tell him to his face what he needed to do. He didn’t cry. He didn’t say I wanted to be traded. He didn’t complain about mistreatment and that’s the difference. That’s why I like and respect him,” he said on TNT.
“The other guy I don’t respect. And I’ve been thinking about it. You’re missing the whole season because they asked your coach a question – can we win without you? And your coach gave a funny answer. That should tell you, in the summertime, you need to work on your game. You don’t think I haven’t been criticized by you guys and Stephen A. (Smith) and haven’t been criticized by LA media and New York media? Great players get criticized but the great players also step up to the criticism and perform.
JOEL EMBIID SCORES 26 POINTS, LEADS 76ERS PAST LAKERS
“This other guy, I don’t respect him. I would get rid of him.”
Embiid added nine rebounds in the 76ers’ 105-87 victory over the Lakers.
The 76ers center is putting together an MVP-type season without Simmons ever playing a single game. He’s averaging 28.9 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.
Simmons has been away from the team since the summer. The icy relationship between him and the 76ers began after coach Doc Rivers was asked whether he thought the team could win without him following their playoff exit. Rivers said he didn’t know how to answer the question.
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Simmons showed up for some 76ers practices but later told the team he was dealing with a mental health issue. He allegedly didn’t cooperate with the team. Earlier this month, he was reportedly attending counseling sessions again and attending team meetings. He was still being fined for missing games, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.