Shaquille O’Neal claps back at Ben Simmons and fans for labelling him a ‘hater’

Brad Sullivan
4 Min Read

Retired Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal offered a blunt rebuttal to both Ben Simmons and his critics who charge that O’Neal is a “hater” for his past criticism of Simmons.

O’Neal offered his comments on “The Big Podcast with Shaq” and explained to co-hosts Spice Adams and Nischelle Turner that criticism of Simmons comes with the territory.

“Listen, if you’re greater, you can’t be a hater,” O’Neal said. “Let’s get that straight right now. If you’re greater, you can’t be no hater. First of all, like I said, I’m just talking about what I see as a player, and I’m talking about what you gotta do to get to that next level. If you don’t like what I say, that ain’t my problem. First of all, it’s never a personal attack on you. I just say what I saw. I saw in his eyes, he was scared and guess what? Everybody goes through struggles. We all do. Everybody goes through struggles. We all do. But this is the game we play. This is the life we live. You’re going to take criticism. They pay us a lot of money, somehow you have to deal with it.”

Simmons, who was dealt to the Brooklyn Nets in February, directed his criticism at O’Neal for what Simmons perceived as O’Neal’s indifference to his struggles.

“When I was dealing with everything going on, I actually messaged him, and he put it out, and I was like, alright,” Simmons said. “I DM’d him. I was like, ‘Why are you saying this if you don’t even know the story?’ ‘Cause he always wants to say, ‘Yo, we’re LSU brothers. You’re my brother.’ All this, that, if you’re my LSU brother, you would have reached out by now, and it’s been months since I been dealing with this. You ain’t reached out once and say, ‘Hey, you okay? What’s going on?’”

During the latter stages of Simmons’ time with the Philadelphia 76ers, he was the subject of harsh criticism for his play. That included his last game with the 76ers, when his decision to pass up an easy dunk was followed later by the Sixers’ elimination from the 2021 postseason.

After Simmons was dealt to the Nets, his efforts to return to the court were stopped by injury, meaning that he’s yet to see a minute of action with his new team.

Since retiring as a player, O’Neal was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He continues to stay close to the game by serving as a commentator for TNT.

In that role, O’Neal’s job is to offer his opinions on different stories related to the NBA. Given Simmons’ reaction, some of O’Neal’s comments don’t go down smoothly.

One possible reason why O’Neal may not have sympathy for Simmons is because O’Neal was the subject of some intense criticism at times during his playing career.

After joining the Lakers in 1996, O’Neal dealt with critics who attacked his inability to lead them to an NBA title. Following three consecutive titles from 2000 to 2002, as well as one with the Miami Heat in 2006, that criticism disappeared.

Clearly, Simmons simply needs to focus on playing basketball, which may end up helping to alleviate any criticism that comes his way.

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Brad is a freelance writer for, who can clearly recall watching Lakers games in 1972 as they captured the first of their 11 Los Angeles-based titles. The franchise's evolution into a beloved and iconic franchise among its fan base since that memorable year allows for a wider perspective to be a part of his writing about the team's current fortunes.