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Simmons Finally Opens Up About Being the NBA’s Biggest Trade of the Year

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Australian basketball star Ben Simmons has made his first public comments since being traded to the Brooklyn Nets.

On a blockbuster day of NBA trade action, Simmons was traded to the Brooklyn Nets along with Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two-first round picks.

Brooklyn included superstar James Harden and Paul Millsap in the deal.

Speaking in a press conference at the Nets’ training facility, Simmons said he was ‘super excited’ to be joining the team and said he experienced some ‘dark times’ towards the end of his spell with the Philadelphia 76ers.

“I’ve had some dark times over the last six months and I’m just happy to be in this situation with this team and organisation,” Simmons said.

“The organisation has welcomed me like their own and whatever I need they’ve been very supportive with that, which has been great, same as the players. Super excited to get out there eventually and play.”

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Simmons admitted he struggled with mental health issues well before the 76ers Eastern Conference semi-final series loss against the Atlanta Hawks last season, stating ‘it was earlier than that series or even that season that I was dealing with.’

Some pundits have been quick to criticise Simmons for blaming mental health as a reason for wanting to be traded by the 76ers.

Speaking on Fox Sports Radio, Ben Maller didn’t hold back in his criticism of Simmons.

“Ben Simmons in Philadelphia was a charlatan, a fake, a phony and a fraud,” Maller said.

“This guy (Simmons) has been hiding behind the mental health card playing it from the bottom of the deck, knowing that it makes you untouchable in a polite society.”

“The establishment media are afraid of even slightly criticising someone who makes this claim, like Ben Simmons.”

Mental health in sport is a serious issue, as is mental health in society.

If a player needs time away from the game to deal with their mental health issues, or on some occasions, a fresh start at a new team, they should be afforded the respect and privacy that the situation deserves.

In recent times, athletes such as Australian cricket star Glenn Maxwell, Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka, USA gymnast Simone Biles, English cricketer Ben Stokes and Australian basketball star Liz Cambage have all taken time off from their sport to focus on their mental health.

Writing for Sports Illustrated, Julie Kliegman categorically declared that mental health is ‘not a laughing matter’.

“But his (Simmons) mental health, just like anyone else’s, is not a laughing matter, despite all the quips about a move to Brooklyn never improving a 20-something’s well-being,” Kliegman said.

“Sure, the fit in Philly may not have been right for Simmons, but that doesn’t mean he was faking something like anxiety or depression just to get a trade.”

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With the Australian Boomers recently winning bronze at the Tokyo Olympics and implementing a ‘gold vibes only’ standard, it is hoped that Simmons can get back on the court when he is ready and again suit up for the Aussies.

The Australian public will be hoping a change of team and a fresh start will help Simmons win his mental health battle.

Picture of Joel Martelli
Joel Martelli
The only thing that Joel Martelli loves more than football (seriously, we wouldn't be surprised if he has a Wollongong Wolves tattoo) is writing about all things sports. With a Bachelor of Communications and Media Studies Degree specialising in Journalism, he spends his days uncovering breaking athlete news stories and diving deep into play-by-play strategies. We're glad that he's put his passion to the pages of Only Sports as one of our dedicated sports writers.

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