Sixers' Ben Simmons explains why he doesn't watch ESPN

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Noah Levick
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Simmons explains why he doesn't watch ESPN, who he most respects originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

There’s far too much criticism out there for Ben Simmons to respond to it all.

However, he decided last month to spend some time addressing the opinion of NBC Sports Washington’s Justin Kutcher that he was “overrated.” 

Simmons referred on social media to Kutcher as “another casual." Additionally, he said the following after the Sixers’ March 14 win over the Spurs: 

“I see a lot of s--- on the Internet. When I saw that, I had plenty of time, because I was in quarantine still, so I scrolled through his Instagram, saw who he was. It is what is. He’s a 5-foot-5 commentator for the Wizards, man. I can’t give it too much attention. I was just playing a little game with him. But it is what it is — everyone has their voice and they can say what they want. It is what it is.”

Those comments suggested Simmons distinguishes between those who have the authority to criticize his game and those who don’t. He expanded on that subject in a wide-ranging interview with GQ’s Tyler R. Tynes.

“The thing with people is that they think they know something soooo well,” Simmons told Tynes. “And this guy thinks he knows basketball sooo well. And that may be because he watches the games but does he really know the game? Did he grow up playing the game? Has he been in different situations, has he run the point guard position, has he played at this level? Like, everybody wants to feel like they know the game. And that’s just not the case. Draymond [Green] says it all the time. That’s not the case. Not everybody knows everything about something or as much as they think they know.

“And for me? I can’t worry about that. Because, right now, we’re first [in the Eastern Conference]. If I was doing something completely wrong, I don’t think we’d be in this position. Right now, we’re sitting first. And hopefully gonna end first this season. As long as I keep my mind straight and focus on the things I need to do for my team, and teammates, then we’re fine.

According to Simmons, he doesn’t go on Twitter or watch ESPN.

“There’s no SportsCenter, unless it’s a game going on or something like that,” he said. “There’s no Stephen A. (Smith), there’s none of that.”

Simmons thinks his inner circle can provide better feedback than he’d receive by scrolling online and reading about how vital it is that he takes more mid-range jumpers. He named Sixers head coach Doc Rivers, assistant coach Sam Cassell and teammates Joel Embiid and Dwight Howard among those he trusts to guide him in the right direction. 

“You have certain people in your world,” he said. “I’ve got the Sixers organization. I’ve got my family. I’ve got my agents. I’ve got college coaches. I’ve got high school coaches. Just because I’m not listening to the dude on the TV and these guys on the radio doesn’t mean I don’t have people. And who’s to say they’re correct? Most of these guys off these shows have jobs where they’ve never played the game at a high level. How do they know, really, what they’re talking about? Or is it just their opinions at the end of the day?”

Simmons and Howard have not meshed successfully on the court, which is a potential concern for the Sixers ahead of the postseason. The team has a minus-11.4 net rating when that pairing plays together, per Cleaning the Glass

Howard’s off-court influence shouldn’t be dismissed, though. The 35-year-old said before the season that Simmons reminded him of a young LeBron James and could be “one of the greatest to ever play the game.”

It seems Howard has followed through on investing time in Simmons and believing in his potential. 

“He’s great,” Simmons said. “He expects me to come out and do my thing every night and he knows I’m capable of that. He’s been somebody who’s been pushing me every game and letting me know how special I can be on the floor and what I mean to this team and that’s been great. Then Joel, of course. He’s telling me to be aggressive every game. I know that gets the team going when I’m out there being aggressive; that gets everybody going.”

You can read Tynes’ full interview with Simmons here