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Bill Simmons is mad at Devin Booker as Team USA almost loses to Turkey

Sep 3, 2019, 8:45 AM | Updated: 4:02 pm
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (AP photo), left, and The Ringer's Bill Simmons (Getty Images), rig...
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (AP photo), left, and The Ringer's Bill Simmons (Getty Images), right.
(Getty Images)

The Ringer’s Bill Simmons, along with other American basketball fans, had a frantic Tuesday morning.

Gregg Popovich’s team needed an overtime and four consecutive missed free throws by Turkey to avoid a loss in its second game of the FIBA World Cup. Team USA hung on to win 93-92 in Shanghai, but it needed Jayson Tatum drawing a foul on a three-pointer with 0.1 seconds left in regulation to force overtime with two made free throws.

Then, Turkey missed four straight free throws while holding a 92-91 lead in the final 10 seconds of overtime before USA’s Khris Middleton canned two from the foul stripe with two seconds left, giving the Americans the lead for good.

Anyhow, before the overtime period, it was apparent Team USA was in trouble. And so Simmons, a rabid Boston Celtics fan, reacted by not criticizing anyone on the current roster. The roster, by the way, includes four Celtics.

Instead, Simmons targeted Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker — he is not on the team, like the many, many other star players who declined offers to play for the Americans this summer.

It’s true that Devin Booker probably would have been one of the best — if not the best — players on this roster.

Kemba Walker is an offensive dynamo, and Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell is pretty good as well. But the rest of the roster consists of NBA role players.

Arguably nobody outside of Walker can create their own buckets to the same abilities as Booker, and that’s a key thing for a patchwork team that hasn’t had time to build chemistry. They don’t have a guy to bail them out when things aren’t working.

So it’s fair to say he would have made a difference.

Booker declined an invite because he wants to stay healthy. The 22-year-old has appeared in 118 of a possible 164 games over the past two seasons as he’s battled numerous nagging injuries. With a long NBA career and more opportunities to play for Team USA ahead, he opted to stay home this summer.

For Simmons, the reality of the risk that Booker wasn’t willing to take came late in the overtime period, when Tatum sprained his ankle while stepping on a Turkish player’s foot.

Booker could not not take the low-hanging fruit provided to him to let Simmons know he saw his questionable tweet.

By that point, Simmons’ tweet had already riled up Suns fans and others who aren’t understanding why Simmons picked on Booker.

And if Simmons wants to better understand why Booker isn’t playing, well:

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Bill Simmons is mad at Devin Booker as Team USA almost loses to Turkey