Toronto Sun reporter Steve Simmons has found himself in the middle of some pretty notable public controversies during his career. From making up a story about Phil Kessel and a fictional hot dog vendor to outing Auston Matthews' COVID-19 diagnosis, it's fair to say that Simmons doesn't always cast himself as a journalist with the utmost of integrity. Well... get ready for it because Simmons has yet again put his foot in his mouth and this latest public blunder could be his worst one yet.
Now, I'll preface this all by saying that I am in no way an NBA or a Toronto Raptors expert. I've probably watched approximately 10 minutes of NBA basketball in my life and I do not follow the sport in any real way.
But in a Zoom meeting with Toronto reporters earlier today with Raptors’ president Masai Ujiri, Simmons asked why Ujiri and the Raptors have highlighted racial issues when it's not a "local issue" in the Toronto area. Simmons asked Ujuri specifically when he and the Raptors will address the issue of crime in Toronto. In effect Simmons gave a "but what about" style question that only served to undermine the real issue. He may as well have said, "Sure, racism is a problem. But what about crime?"
Here's Simmons full question transcribed:
“You’re in a unique position being the only Canadian team in the NBA, and in charge of the only Canadian team in the NBA. Sometimes you see issues out there that really don’t pertain to this country at all. And I’m wondering, if in the city that you live in and operate in, shootings in Toronto are up 180 percent since you came and joined the Raptors. Death by gunfire is up by over 180 percent. Is it time for you and the Raptors to get involved in more local issues, to try and work with a city that’s seeing crime at a rate it’s never seen before?”
TSN's Kayla Grey followed up Simmons question and threw it right back at Simmons in a masterful way.
Check it out:
That's really just where the war of words began between Grey and Simmons though.
Grey took to Twitter to show her displeasure without calling out Simmons by name.
Check it out:
To which Simmons ham fistedly replied:
And the follow up from Grey:
I have to say... I think this was a poor choice of words from Simmons. I kind of understand what he's getting at, but the way he fumbles through his question he just leaves himself open to criticism. The fact is that there are a lot of problems in the world and, by extension, in Toronto. Is racism a problem? Of course. Is gun violence also a problem? You bet. But when you can't manage to get your point across in a clear and concise way and you end up conflating things as Simmons has, then you deserve to be knocked down a peg. And you know what? I'm all for knocking Simmons down several pegs.