Jared Dudley wasn’t necessarily a household name among NBA fans prior to the first round of the NBA playoffs.
But the Brooklyn Nets forward mate one hell of an impression when his team faced Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers.
The increasingly chippy series was headlined by Dudley’s heel turn, sparked by his description of Simmons as an ‘average’ player in the half-court.
The Nets and 76ers went at each other hard after Brooklyn stunned the highly favoured Philadelphia in game one.
Simmons and co had the last laugh, winning the series 4-1.
Now, it appears Dudley has come back to Earth a little bit, paying respect to his to opponent in an interview with New York Times NBA reporter Marc Stein.
When asked if he regretted his comments about Simmons, Dudley answered honestly.
“I do wish I chose different words. I was breaking down how we were going to guard him — how you try to limit someone like Ben Simmons,” Dudley said.
“I was just trying to say that we would have our best success if we could get him in a half-court game.
“Should I have used the word ‘average’? Looking back on it, no. It was such a negative reaction after I said it that no one heard I also said he was elite in transition and an elite passer.
“But, you know, it happens. It’s the playoffs. And I understand the reaction. I understand how it goes.”
Simmons answers back
Ever since Dudley’s comments, Simmons has been on an absolute tear.
After towelling up the Nets, Simmons has turned his attention to the Toronto Raptors – stifling superstar forward in a surprise game two win on Tuesday.
Toronto is historically a graveyard for Philadelphia, who had lost 14 in a row in the Canadian city with their previously most recent win coming in 2012.
Leonard dominated Saturday’s game one with 45 points.
In game two Simmons, the 208cm tall 22-year-old from Melbourne, troubled the 201cm Leonard with his height and speed.
“I was just trying to make it hard on him,” Simmons said.
Leonard still had 35 points, seven rebounds and six assists but he was repeatedly forced to pass the ball when Simmons closed in and other 76ers Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid, added extra pressure.