Philadelphia 76ers fans don't need another reason to have Ben Simmons on their minds, as Tuesday brought us all the Simmons-related drama that we could handle. The 25-year-old was thrown out of practice, suspended for conduct detrimental to the team, and was once again the focal point of NBA talk for the day. Is that not enough material to nullify the need for any other reasons to think about Simmons?
Unfortunately, Brooklyn Nets veteran Blake Griffin gave us exactly that, bringing Simmons to mind in an embarrassing moment in the NBA season opener against the Milwaukee Bucks.
No, he didn't miss several free throws toward the end of a game. No, he didn't refuse to take a three-pointer. No, he didn't get thrown out of practice and serve as a distraction to his Nets teammates and coaches. But he did have a moment that was eerily reminiscent to the play that very well may have marked Simmons' low point on a basketball court, one that has burned an image in the consciences of Sixers fans for years to come. First, Griffin's play (h/t Redditor Josh-trihard7):
Now, here's Simmons' play during a crucial juncture of the postseason last year:
Now, Simmons' pass did result in a pair of free throws for teammate Matisse Thybulle. Griffin's, on the other hand, resulted in an eventual turnover from Joe Harris. But if you look at the circumstances — with Trae Young the only thing between a controlled Simmons and the basket, as opposed to a full-speed Griffin charge with Giannis Antetokounmpo posing a defensive threat — you can argue that one play was worse than the other. I still can't watch that video of Simmons' non-dunk without wondering how on earth it was even possible that he didn't opt to just jam that thing. In fact, I'd argue that Griffin's non-dunk wouldn't have become a highlight had Simmons' embarrassing predecessor not given us a point of comparison.
Also, Griffin is on the wrong side of 30, with a known lower-body injury history. Simmons is... well, not that. No, it wasn't a good play from the Nets' veteran big, but it also wasn't the impetus for their 23-point loss to the powerhouse Bucks, and it certainly wasn't as much of an "I'm-scared-sh*tless" moment as it was for his Philadelphia counterpart.
Griffin finished with six points and five rebounds in a disappointing opening night for the Nets, and he'll look to bounce back after serving as a nice spark plug for them last season down the stretch (12.0 points, 7.7 rebounds in the Eastern Conference Semifinals).