After a seemingly never-ending bout with ceaseless back pain, Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons was finally able to recuperate and find himself again.
It took two full years of recovering from a back injury that sidelined him for the entirety of the 2021-22 season and an additional 39 games last season, for the nerve issue to finally subside. And Simmons says he’s beginning to feel better.
“I’m in a place now where everything is a lot easier,” Simmons said.
That includes his mental health. The 27-year-old’s inability to do what he loved truly took a toll on his mental well-being, which also included the disintegration of his relationship with the team that drafted him, the Philadelphia 76ers, which led to a trade to the Nets in the blockbuster involving James Harden.
Not only did Simmons hate that he couldn’t be on the court, but he also hated how he felt unable to do day-to-day activities.
“Just daily things. Waking up, standing up. Getting out of bed, that was a struggle because I was in pain usually,” he said. “Sitting down for too long, I would get tightness”.
Being in constant pain and feeling like he was truly unable to do his passion made Simmons feel helpless. He’d watch his teammates on the court and he would ache knowing how much he missed doing what he loved.
“If you’re not able to compete and do the things you naturally do, it takes a toll on your mental health,” Simmons said.
Missing 122 of a possible 164 games over the last two seasons proves his patience in his recovery was undeniably strong, but heading into the 2023-24 campaign, he’s finally begun to recover both mentally and physically as well as he looks to re-capture an All-Star level of play that made the former No. 1 overall pick a perceived foundation of a championship contender in Philadelphia.
“I know who I am,” Simmons said. “I’m not where I need to be. I know that’s where I need to get, to get to an All-Sar level, All-NBA. I know what it takes, which is the fun of it. I don’t want anything easy.“