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The Ben Simmons-Jared Dudley beef, explained

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How the hell did we get here?

NBA: Playoffs-Brooklyn Nets at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The National Hockey League doesn’t have the only old vs. young beef in pro sports at the moment — especially with the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers having their own gripe to settle between a vet and a young player.

Nets’ veteran Jared Dudley and Sixers all-star Ben Simmons are butting heads. No, they haven’t thrown hands, and they almost certainly won’t throw hands because basketball players rarely do that. But the back-and-forth between the two is something you don’t usually see between two mild-mannered players, especially not with such a wide age gap.

In this case, Dudley took a shot at Simmons, saying “He’s a great player in transition, and once you get him in the half court, he’s average.” Simmons is a first-time all-star injustice in his second season. His response to Dudley, a 33-year-old veteran whose career has spanned 11 years across six teams?

“That’s coming from Jared Dudley,” he shot back at Sixers shoot around on Thursday. “Come on.”

If we’ve learned anything about Simmons this week, it’s that he might have a little more of a mouth on him than we thought.

How the heck did we even get here? Let’s rewind to the beginning.

Dudley had Simmons’ number in Game 1

Again, Dudley is 33 and Simmons is 22. Simmons, more athletic than Dudley has ever been, should have the physical tools to exploit this matchup. Instead, Dudley held Simmons to just two points (!!) on one-of-five shooting (!/!!!!!) on the 22 possessions he defended him that night.

It wasn’t just Simmons — players defended by Dudley included Mike Scott, Boban Marjanovic, and Joel Embiid. They all combined to score just two points on 43 total possessions.

Probably safe to file Dudley away as a halfway-decent defender, right? Right.

The Nets went on to steal Game 1 in Philly, 111-102.

But Dudley didn’t play in Game 2

He sat out to recover from a calf injury. While Dudley sat out, Simmons morphed into the most aggressive version of himself. He became the player the 76ers need him to be if they want to have any chance at competing for a championship, let alone escaping this hellacious series against Brooklyn for a dance with Toronto in the second round.

Simmons put up a triple-double: 18 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds. He set the pace for the Sixers to pull off a playoff record 51-point third quarter. The Sixers absolutely pummeled the Nets, 145-123. All the while, Dudley sat on the sidelines.

Then, the Nets had a practice

And in that practice, Dudley had some not-so kind words to say about the Sixers’ all-star.

Ben Simmons is a great player in transition,” he said. “And once you get him into halfcourt, he’s average.”

Average? For an all-star? The Australian sensation who was dubbed the second coming of Lebron James? That’s disrespectful. It’s also kinda true, which is neither here nor there.

To be fair, that was only a portion of what he said. Dudley broke down the team defensive scheme and the individual task of defending such a talented player. “Simmons is really the key,” he said. “In transition, he’s hard to guard. In the half court, we’ve had our successes.”

He also took a friendly jab: “I might put him on the free-throw line. Let’s see if he can make free throws. This is not Steph Curry shooting free throws. It’s something he struggled with.”

Of course, reporters did their thing. On Thursday, Simmons was asked about Dudley’s comments. His response: “That’s coming from Jared Dudley.” Nothing more. Nothing less.

Then Simmons dominated in Game 3

He showed he can take over a game on a whim. While Joel Embiid sat with a knee injury, Simmons posted a historic Philly stat line. He thoroughly dominated Brooklyn on their own home floor. There was nothing they could do to stop him.

There was also this moment, when Dudley air-balled a three. Simmons stuck his arms out, as if to say “Are you entertained?” He stared Dudley in his grill while he did it.

That brings us to Game 4

Dudley made sure Simmons felt him — quite literally. He sneakily shoved him during a dead ball, which visibly got underneath Simmons’ skin.

The two also jawed back-and-forth with one another after Dudley ripped Simmons in transition.

Nets fans cheered Dudley every time he touched the ball, and the arena exploded when he made his first three-point shot of the game. Dudley also gave Simmons a taste of his own medicine. He stuck his arms right back out at Simmons after splashing it in the second quarter.

This series has been amazing, and the Dudley vs. Simmons beef somehow has been at the center of it all. We will continue updating this post as the feud rages on.