His coach and a number of teammates may have been less forgiving, but Ben Simmons has now found support from one of his Philadelphia 76ers’ comrades – Dwight Howard.
The past 48 hours for the Australian NBA star have been the toughest of his career, hammered by his own organisation and the US basketball media after the 76ers’ disastrous elimination in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
Simmons, who took the brunt of criticism for that loss after failing to impact the game on the scoreboard, had All-Star teammate Joel Embiid publicly point the finger at him for a moment late in Monday’s match that cost the side. While coach Doc Rivers failed to show belief in Simmons when asked by media if the Aussie could lead a championship-contenting team.
All this while having the NBA’s biggest voices in the media calling for the 76ers to trade him despite having four years to run on his contract.
Fortunately for Simmons, he has Howard – his eight-time All-Star teammate – who also has been through the lows of the NBA.
“As much as everyone wants to blame, this isn’t 76ers,” he told his followers during an Instagram live.
“I don’t think it’s right that everybody sends him bad messages and all this negativity. I think it sucks.
“We’re supposed to be the city of brotherly love and the best thing we can do is have some psoitivity.
“This man is 24 years old. He’s 24 years old, he’s still learning who he is as a person and a player.”
“I know a lot of stuff and people can say whatever they want, anything about this man, but he’s still a young man. He’s my teammate,” he added.
“I don’t care how any of you feel about him, my teammate, I will stick with him no matter what.
“Ben I got your back, man. You’re my brother and I love you. I want everyone to know that.
“He might’ve messed up, didn’t take no shots, didn’t do whatever – he’s going to come back better next year. We have to send our man some love.”
Howard, 35, has played with seven NBA franchises to date and was at the centre of intense fan scrutiny when he left his first team, Orlando after eight years, and when he snubbed the Lakers during the Kobe Bryant era after one season with the LA team.
The legendary centre was subjected to booing for years, which was so intense, fans from both clubs even burned his jersey in the aftermath of leaving both Orlando and LA.
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