Rehab, reset and rejuvenation: What can we expect from Ben Simmons in Brooklyn?
Don't call it a comeback.
There are few NBA players facing a more anticipated season debut than Ben Simmons. After physical and mental health challenges saw him sit out much of the 2021-22 season, Simmons’ acrimonious trade away from Philadelphia landed him on another Eastern Conference contender - the Brooklyn Nets. There, the Aussie forms part of a “big three”, alongside two credentialed volume scorers in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Simmons’ mysterious back injury, much publicised by a “will he or won’t he?” saga in the 2022 NBA playoffs, has prevented him from making his Nets debut, and culminated in surgery following their first round exit. The 26 year old can almost be labelled an “NBA veteran”, with six seasons under his belt, but until very recently he had never quite opened up to the media. In an eyeopening September conversation with former teammate J.J. Redick, on the “Old Man and the Three” podcast, Simmons unearthed several unknowns about his injury, rehabilitation and transitioning to Brooklyn.
Injury and rehab
Simmons has endured back troubles throughout his career, beginning with a nerve impingement injury in February of 2020. When the issue resurfaced ahead of the 2022 playoffs, and Simmons couldn’t make it back in time for a struggling Nets team, he became an easy scapegoat. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith unloaded on the Aussie, describing him as the “weakest, most pathetic, excuse for a professional athlete we have ever seen”.
The critics were perhaps left redfaced when Simmons underwent surgery in May, and in conversation with Redick, the point forward revealed how serious his symptoms were.
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