Did The ESPYs cross the line in Saturday’s criticism of 76ers point guard Ben Simmons? During Saturday night’s ESPY awards, which aired on ABC, host Anthony Mackie announced that Simmons had received a fictitious ESPY award.
The ESPYs, originated by ESPN, recognize individual and team athletic achievements and other sports-related performances. ABC and ESPN are both part of the Walt Disney Company.
Mackie told the audience that “Ben Simmons took home a special ESPY for his humanitarian work. Not everybody knows this but Ben Simmons had been building orphanages like this one completely out of his playoff bricks.”
While speaking, there was a screen full of bricks that Mackie pointed to.
The video then showed Simmons missing a few free throws, with a cutaway shot of Sixers coach Doc Rivers showing frustration.
Along with Mackie, there were two young girls on the stage.
”What would you like to say, little ladies?” said Mackie.
“Thanks, Ben Simmons,” they said.
Mackie was referring to the problems that Simmons had this past postseason from the foul line. In the Sixers’ two playoff series he shot 25-for-73 (34.2%). During the Sixers’ seven-game Eastern Conference semifinal loss to the Atlanta Hawks, Simmons was 15-for-45 (33.3%).
Simmons has received plenty of criticism since the top-seeded Sixers were ousted by the fifth-seeded Hawks. Stating the facts is one thing. Going out of one’s way to humiliate somebody on national television is another.
When asked to comment on whether ESPN thought this was going overboard, a network spokesperson wrote to The Inquirer, “Thanks for reaching out. We’re not going to comment at this time.”