NBA news 2021: Hollywood star Kevin Hart leaps to Ben Simmons’ defence amid Philadelphia 76ers saga
Ben Simmons has had few fans during his falling out with Philadelphia but he’s received huge support from an unlikely source.
As his standoff with the Philadelphia drags on, the critics have queued up to pile on the pain for Ben Simmons.
But the disgruntled 76ers star has received some strong public support from an unlikely source.
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The state of affairs has rapidly deteriorated since Simmons requested a trade after he felt he was hung out to dry by coach Doc Rivers and star teammate Joel Embiid following his disastrous performance in the playoffs.
It’s been reported Simmons won’t suit up for the franchise again, is willing to be fined and suspended for sitting out pre-season camp and is even prepared to sit out for the entire season if a trade can’t be facilitated.
ESPN reports he was fined approximately $AUD494,000 for missing Tuesday’s pre-season clash against Toronto and faces further hits to his hip pocket if he doesn’t play.
Simmons clearly wants out of Philadelphia and has even listed one of his homes in the city for sale for $AUD4.3 million.
It seems the saga won’t be resolved anytime soon but the Indiana Pacers have emerged as the strongest suitor for the 25-year-old.
Simmons has been roundly slammed by NBA legends and pundits, including basketball royalty Shaquille O’Neal, who criticised the 208cm guard for not developing the one tool that could make him a superstar — a jump shot.
But now a Hollywood star has come forward to strongly defend Simmons and sing his praises.
Actor and comedian Kevin Hart, who grew up in Philadelphia and supports the 76ers, said the team’s fan base in notoriously harsh and has quickly forgotten how good of a player Simmons is.
“I’ll say this on record, Ben Simmons is a f***ing star,” Hart told the All The Smoke podcast.
“Philadelphia, man, we’re a different city.
“Look, you’ve got to let players play like they play. He got there by playing how he plays.
“Granted, this is a three (point) shooting time in the NBA. (But) that ain’t Ben. He’s not that guy.
“Now, because of the media and how they position things, well, somehow we forgot about all the good that he did.
“Wasn’t he an All-Star? Wasn’t he All-Defensive Team? What are we talking about here?”
While Hart acknowledged Simmons failed when it counted in the playoffs, he argued it was important to remember he finished second in the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award and picked up his third All-Star honour last season.
“You get to the stage in the playoffs when they lights are on, I understand it,” he said.
“People don’t want nothing but results and results should come in a win.
“But I’m telling you guys, as a point guard that man stands at 6’10. As a 6’10 point guard, if you’re telling me that’s not a valuable asset, then I don’t know basketball.
“I know him, I think he’s young, he’s a great dude, he’s got a great f***ing future and a great career ahead of him. And for him, this is nothing but a time to bear down and each year show progression.
“But I don’t like that in this time today, we forget so fast. We forget so fast.
“Do you know what All-Defensive Team is? Do you know what that means? Do we know what an All-Star, or what it takes to become an All-Star (means)? Do we understand that, or do we just throw it out the window? I don’t think with him you do that.”
Hart confessed he is friends with Simmons and had spoken to him recently, adding the team that lands Simmons will be lucky to have the chance to harness his immense potential.
“I’ve talked to him so I’m not going to put business out there but wherever he goes, wherever he ends up, Ben Simmons is a f***ing star,” he said.
“Whoever gets that guy, that f***ing potential and that beast of a man, you’re going to see the bang for your buck.
“I’m a Ben Simmons fan regardless and I know the city of Philadelphia is very tough.
“We’re hard on all. I just wish him the best and I hope wherever his next opportunity is, is the right one for him because I think he’s talented as f***.”