Up until last season's playoffs, Ben Simmons was considered one of the best young players in the league. Moreover, he was a fan favorite as well. But his popularity among fans has been constantly plummeting this season.
Initially, it was due to him forcing his way out of the Philadelphia 76ers. His wish was granted by the franchise at the NBA trade deadline as he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets for James Harden.
When the trade took place, most believed that he would get on the court rather sooner than later. But once again Simmons disappointed everyone as he didn't make his season debut before the playoffs.
Fans were understandably disappointed but hoped that Ben would make his much-anticipated debut in the playoffs. For a while, most reports suggested that Simmons will be on the court in Game 4 of the Round 1 series against the Boston Celtics. Now, it has been confirmed that he will continue to sit out even in Game 4 of the series.
This has led to Simmons becoming the target of a lot of backlash from NBA fans and analysts alike. Most notably, Reggie Miller absolutely destroyed Simmons for not helping the Nets in a situation where the team is already down 3-0 in the series and is on the verge of being swept in the very first round of the postseason.
Following in the footsteps of Miller, now NBA analyst Charles Barkley has joined in to berate Simmons. In a recent episode of 'NBA on TNT,' Barkley got real about Simmons' situation with the Nets.
"I don't care about the fans, they are important and significant. I wanna make that clear, fans are important and significant, but let me let you something. When the players don't respect you that's a big deal. When the players say 'We can't count on this dude.' Like the fans, they are gonna come and go when things are good and bad, I love the fans. Ben is getting to the point now where your teammates are like ‘Yo, does this dude want to play basketball?’ Clearly it happened in Philly. Now it’s happening (in Brooklyn)."
(starts at 0:50)
As Chuck pointed out, it has been confirmed that Nets players are disappointed with the news that Simmons will not be a part of the decisive Game 4 of the series.
Even if the Nets somehow avoid a sweep and push the series to a Game 5, it is highly unlikely that fans and players will forgive Simmons for bailing out on the franchise when they needed him the most.