Ben Simmons Did That Little Practice Dunk For Nothing
4:09 PM EDT on April 25, 2022
In light of the news that Ben Simmons has postponed his 2021-22 season debut, originally planned for Game 4 of the Nets-Celtics playoff series, I have to violate the Ben Simmons Anti-Sucker Act and wonder what he was trying to prove earlier in April when he made sure all the reporters saw him plop a little dunk in practice. Great, he too remembers when he passed up a wide-open bucket in Game 7 of a playoff series, but who was this for?
Simmons's injury rehab for a herniated disk in his back had exhausted every possible verb known to Shams Charania. It's remained on course, suffered a setback, ramped up ... how many times can something be ramped up? At what point has it reached the peak of ramping? The ramping up has to be done by now. There's no more ramp to up!
After the Boston Celtics took a 2-0 series lead, Charania reported that Simmons planned to be there for Game 4. It would've been his first NBA game in 10 months. Then the Celtics won Game 3, and now Simmons isn't going to be back for Game 4. Maybe Game 5, assuming the Nets don't get swept, but don't hold head coach Steve Nash to that:
This saga has gone on for so long that now there's been a brief moment of reconsideration of whether Cleveland Browns fans were too hard on Baker Mayfield. The NBA and NBPA may have to argue over how this serves as precedent for future player contracts. Stephen A. Smith is on TV calling Simmons "the weakest, most pathetic excuse for a professional athlete we have ever seen in not just American history, but the history of sports." That seems harsh, and also like a category not worth considering for very long, but I will say this: At least that Pirates first baseman who forgot how to touch first base kept pursuing a baseball career afterward.
But instead of getting myself worked up to the point where I'm arguing about Simmons and labor in sports from the same position as some decrepit columnist, or a number of hockey fans, I've found peace within the highlights of Saturday's Game 3. As the broadcast cameras pan back and forth with every possession, the Nets' mostly black-and-white scheme is interrupted by one player on the sideline. He's wearing Warren Lotas underneath a varsity jacket, as well as orange pants. You might recognize him.
Look at him, just looming in the background like Pennywise the Dancing Clown as the Nets are minutes away from falling into a 3-0 series deficit. Maybe by Game 5 he'll be ramped up enough to do a little dunk in street clothes during a TV timeout.