Ben Simmons on mental, physical health: 'I don't think people realized where I was at'

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Ben Simmons wasn’t physically or mentally healthy last season, one in which he didn’t play a single game. He was supposed to, though, scheduled to return for Game 4 of the Nets’ playoff series with the Celtics, which ended up being their season finale – but we didn’t find out until Monday, Nets Media Day, just how bad his back was that day.

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“The day I was supposed to play Game 4, I woke up that morning on the floor and couldn’t move, I could barely walk,” Simmons said. “I’m glad I had the surgery, because it was much needed, and I don’t think people really realized where I was at.”

Simmons is “good to go” after that surgery, and admitted that things ramped up pretty quickly from a potential return to the court to needing that microdiscectomy procedure – but he’s glad it’s in the past, and he’s feeling better than ever.

“I’m glad to be in this position now; I rehabbed myself and got into a position where I could compete, so I’m excited,” he said. “I’ve been playing all week with KD and Kyrie, and it’s been incredible.”

On the other side of the coin, Simmons is also in a good place mentally, even with all of the summer chaos that surrounded the Nets.

“I put a lot of time and effort into myself. A lot of time and energy has been spent getting myself to a place where I want to play,” he said. “I feel like everyone has dark days, but when you’re able to address it and get towards a place where you need to be, that’s where I am. I work on myself every day.”

He focused on himself, Simmons says, because really, that’s all he can control.

“There was a lot going on (this summer), but for me I had to focus on my heath and getting back on the court. Beyond that, I worry only about what I can control,” he said. “Obviously, different things were going on, but I don’t worry about that stuff. It’s blessing to play with talented players, but I just focus on what I can do to contribute to this team, and that was getting healthy.”

And no, he doesn’t care about your narratives, about him or the team.

“I don’t care about narrative, or people saying certain things, because I can’t control that. All I can do is focus on what I do on the court: win games and help this team win a championship,” he said. “That’s the goal, so for me, my focus is going out there and doing what I can to help my team win.
Expectations are for you guys.”

Regardless of what happened this summer, the Nets are what they are now – and to Simmons, that’s a team that looks like it wants to push the pace, one he finds similar to his 2017-18 Sixers team that won 16 games in a row to end the regular season.

“I think we have a team that wants to run and guys that can make plays, and defensively, I think we’re going to be great,” Simmons said. “Not having a guy on the team who is so dominant in the post allows us to run and move, and the weapons we have from the arc are incredible. I’m looking forward to playing with these guys. I think the chemistry is going to grow, and I think we have a lot to prove.”

And speaking of those weapons from the arc, one reporter just had to ask Simmons – who is a whopping 5-or-34 from three-point land in his career – how many threes he might attempt…and to his credit, Simmons could only smile as he gave a fun answer:

“(Shoot), who knows!”

Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroWFAN

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