'Not a good look': Ben Simmons critics slammed after big twist in saga

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Pictured left is Stephen A. Smith alongside a photo of NBA star Ben Simmons.
Stephen A. Smith has been made to eat his words after brutal criticism about Ben Simmons. Pic: ESPN/Getty

Basketball fans have taken to social media en masse to call out critics of Ben Simmons, after it was revealed the Aussie star requires back surgery on an issue that kept him out of the Brooklyn Nets' disastrous NBA playoffs campaign.

Simmons was savaged around the NBA world after the Nets suffered a 4-0 clean sweep defeat to the Boston Celtics, meaning the Aussie ended the NBA season without playing a single game.

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The 25-year-old was widely expected to make his season and team debut in Game 4 against the Celtics after a lengthy ramp-up period while dealing with a back injury.

With his team in a 0-3 hole, it would have been a huge boost to have Simmons back on the court.

However, the Aussie was unable to take part in the crucial match, which ended up in a Nets elimination.

Simmons copped brutal backlash across the basketball world as a result, with ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith one of the most vociferous critics.

On ESPN's First Take, Smith let rip at Simmons and his excuse about not playing in Game 4.

“Ben Simmons might also be the weakest, most pathetic excuse for a professional athlete we have ever seen in, not just American history, but the history of sports,” Smith said about Simmons.

NBA great Shaquille O'Neal also slammed Simmons for playing up his back injury and unfavourably compared him to the hard-working people of the United States.

"They’re tired, their back hurt, you don’t hear them complain," O'Neal said.

"They aren’t allowed to complain. So why can’t a guy that makes $30 million because his back is sore, how come he can’t go to work?

"I represent the real hard-working people of this country and that’s why people don’t respect a guy like that."

The extent of Simmons' back injury has now come to light, with the Aussie set to have surgery to alleviate back pain caused by a herniated disc.

The Nets confirmed that Simmons will undergo the procedure on Thursday, with fans flooding social media to demand apologies from critics such as Smith and O'Neal.

Ben Simmons misses entire NBA season

The No.1 pick in the 2016 draft, Simmons didn't play for the Philadelphia 76ers after requesting a trade, citing mental health concerns.

He was dealt to Brooklyn in February in a deal for James Harden but was bothered by the back while trying to rebuild his conditioning.

"After consultation with multiple back specialists, it has been determined that the best course of action for Ben's long-term health is for him to undergo surgery," the Nets said in a statement.

"The microdisectomy procedure, scheduled for Thursday, is designed to alleviate pain caused by the herniated disc in Ben's back. Further updates will be provided following the procedure."

Pictured centre, Ben Simmons watches on during an NBA game featuring his Brooklyn Nets.
Brooklyn's Ben Simmons didn't play a single game in the NBA season after injuries and mental health issues. Pic: Getty

Simmons will have a microdiscectomy, in which a small fragment of the disc is removed, and will need three-to-four months to make a full recovery. He's expected he'll be ready for training camp.

The Nets originally said Simmons had back spasms but later said the problem was a herniated disc.

Simmons eventually resumed workouts and hoped to make his debut during the playoffs, but that plan was scrapped when he experienced more pain.

Simmons' last game was June 20, 2021, his final one in a 76ers uniform, during a post-season series-ending loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

The 25-year-old is a three-time All-Star over his four NBA seasons, scoring 15.9 points with 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists in 275 career games, all starts for Philadelphia.

with agencies

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