Ben Simmons, NBA playoff news, Brooklyn Nets injury: Star has mental block

A stunning report has revealed what is really going on with Ben Simmons as a Hollywood star entered the storm with a surprise message.

Ben Simmons has reportedly told the Brooklyn Nets his ongoing back pain issues may be related to a “mental block”.

It comes after the Australian was branded “the weakest, most pathetic excuse for a professional athlete we’ve ever seen” by high profile ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith as a result of his failure to play for the Nets during their humiliating 4-0 playoff series loss to Boston.

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After being unable to suit up for Game 4, Simmons and his high profile agent Rich Paul are reported to have met with Nets officials to discuss his future with the team.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania first revealed on Wednesday (AEST) the 25-year-old’s issues run deep — relating to the trauma of his infamous meltdown during Philadelphia’s playoffs elimination last season.

The team is reported to have heard the mental issue and the stress of playing basketball may be a “trigger point” for his back pain flare-ups.

While Simmons is committed to playing for the Nets, the team’s commitment to him is a very different case.

The All-Star guard’s future was clouded after a report emerged on Tuesday Simmons was “not a sympathetic figure” within the Nets’ locker room as a result of his behavior this season.

The situation now appears to be reaching an extraordinary conclusion with speculation Simmons may never play again.

The Athletic report details there was a general view from within the Nets’ locker room that there has been a “lack of attempt to play (and) effort to be in uniform” by Simmons this year.

He is reported to have met all the criteria for making his return after completing three consecutive full-intensity scrimmage sessions — only to pull up with back pain the day before his highly-anticipated comeback.

The NBA community was baffled by Simmons’ absence on Brooklyn’s bench as his new team suffered a four-point loss to the Celtics in Game 4 on Tuesday (AEST).

Since arriving in Brooklyn courtesy of a blockbuster trade that sent James Harden to Philadelphia, Simmons has been a regular presence on the bench, supporting his teammates as he worked to overcome physical ailments and mental health issues before joining them on the floor.

He still has $US114 million remaining on his long-term contract.

A comeback in Game 4 was initially on the cards but, with the Nets trailing 3-0 and staring down the barrel of a first-round playoffs exit, the team suddenly announced Simmons still wouldn’t be right to play because of back soreness, sparking a firestorm of criticism towards the Australian.

When Game 4 got underway at the Barclays Center on Tuesday, the Australian was nowhere to be seen. According to reports, he wasn’t even at the venue due to his back complaints.

He showed up for Game 3 sitting on the bench, but his choice of attracts said plenty about where he was in his comeback.

Nets teammates reportedly just wanted to see Simmons sitting on the bench in uniform prepared to make even a cameo appearance in their darkest hour of being swept from the playoffs.

For the second consecutive year, Simmons heads into the off-season with his future clouded.

‘Completely unfair’: Hollywood star stands up for Simmons

Stephen A. Smith’s takedowns of Ben Simmons have not sat well with Hollywood star Jamie Foxx.

In a since-deleted video, Foxx called Smith’s commentary on the Nets guard “completely unfair”.

On Wednesday’s edition of “First Take,” Smith disagreed with Foxx’s disagreement, The New York Post reports.

Smith has been constantly harping on Simmons, who did not play this season, first citing mental health disorders and, more recently, back problems. On Monday, Smith said Simmons “might also be the weakest, most pathetic excuse for a professional athlete we’ve ever seen in not just American history but the history of sport.”

“That is completely unfair,” Foxx said of Smith’s commentary.

“Ben Simmons has a family. This man has people that love him and this man just plays basketball but to be dragged through the mud like this is unfair.

“And why is it you only go at basketball players … you [are] completely mute when it comes to the Tom Bradys [and] the Aaron Rodgers of the world … You get where I’m going … stop it, bruh, it’s out of bounds.”

On “First Take,” Smith explained he and Foxx are close friends and called him “maybe the greatest talent in the history of Hollywood, with his talent and range,” before proceeding to dismantle the argument.

Smith said that they talk about sports regularly, and that Foxx has “no credibility when it comes to sports” — because he’s a Cowboys fan.

“Jamie Foxx knows better,” Smith said.

“He’s just highly protective of the black athlete, as he should be, because they deserve our protection in a lot of situations. Jamie Foxx knows good and damn well it ain’t got nothing to do with brotherhood for me. I protect brothers all the damn time, trust you me, it’s what I DON’T say that proves my protection.”

Smith argued that he doesn’t go after white figures in sports, citing Steve Nash and Tim Tebow as part of “countless examples” of white athletes he’s called out.

He didn’t like the idea that he’s not supposed to call out black athletes.

“I’m only supposed to be complimentary?” he asked. “I’m calling out to Kyrie [Irving] and a Ben Simmons because of their impact and effect on the black athlete. When you go to the collective bargaining table, and [the owners] use them as an example to try to minimize their contribution to players, that’s about those players. That’s about the black athlete.

“If I sit there and take a position on Colin Kaepernick, because I’m talking about how you didn’t strategise appropriately, I’m saying that I wish you had. I wish that you had embraced the support that everyone threw out there on your behalf when you were being blackballed, unfairly, by the NFL.”

Smith continued to emphasize that players’ performance on the court matters, and that hammering Irving and Simmons for their lack of performance is fair game.

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