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The current iteration of the Brooklyn Nets has been at the center of intense scrutiny and plenty of turmoil, though Ben Simmons is trying to focus on his love for basketball rather than everything else that accompanies life in the NBA.
“I love the game. Do I like all the bulls–t around it? No,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “But I love the game and it comes with it. … It is what it is. I love playing basketball and I love to work. Not every day’s gonna be perfect. Everyone has down days; but that’s life.”
Simmons, in particular, said that he didn’t want to let his own adversity—such as the mental health issues and back injury that kept him out of action for all of last season, or his struggles to start the 2022-23 campaign—rob him of the joy of playing.
“It’s a roller coaster. You have good days. You have bad days,” he told reporters. “But it’s life, too. So you’ve just got to stick with it.”
The 26-year-old Simmons has had a tough return to the court, fouling out of two of his first three games of the season while dealing with a knee injury that’s kept him off the court for six games.
His lack of offensive aggression—he’s averaging just 5.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.9 assists and just five shots attempts per game—and his inability to space the floor have been issues for the Nets, and interim head coach Jacque Vaughn has opted against starting Simmons with center Nic Claxton, another non-shooter.
Dan Patrick Show @dpshow
“It’s tough because he’s such a talented player. How do you correct it? That’s a psychological issue. Forget about basketball.” #Nets
–@JimJackson419 discusses what’s gone wrong with Ben Simmons
Jim’s full appearance: https://t.co/v07N4Y1XSs pic.twitter.com/SJN0QAXqoU
Instead, Simmons has been coming off the bench for the Nets, a disappointing outcome for a player who’s supposed to be the third star behind Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. That has set Simmons up for criticism from fans and pundits, though he’s trying to tune out the external noise.
“Yeah, I don’t think you could fully shut it out,” he said. “It’s one of those things where you take certain things, certain information. But at the same time, I know who I’m going to listen to and talk to. And then on top of that, it’s day by day: Everyone’s going to have certain expectations of me. Obviously mine are probably higher than everyone else’s, which they should be. But I know it’s going take time to get back to where I was. And I’m OK with that.”
It’s less ideal for the Nets, who have started 6-8 amidst Simmons’ struggles and yet another Irving controversy. But the power forward is trying to take the adversity in stride.