Ben Simmons gave a bewildered look as he cocked his head to the side when he was told that enough time had passed since his acrimonious breakup with the 76ers for it to be possible that his return to Philadelphia would be received with more fondness than animosity.
His looks, which was quickly turned into a meme, gave the impression that he was a player who was more knowledgeable.
There is not enough time for that because the details of Simmons’ long-building rift with the Sixers are still very fresh. For example, when his former coach Brett Brown requested him to take only one three-point shot per game, or when his current coach Doc Rivers asked him to merely report on time and participate in practice, Simmons did neither of these things.
Or when management and an entire fanbase that only wanted Simmons to embrace the city, play up to his contract, and the talent that made him worthy of the No. 1 pick and chase championships with Joel Embiid were unable to get an honest answer on why Simmons wanted to leave Philadelphia and why he wanted to play for another team.
Simmons is aware that all of that won’t be forgotten so quickly.
Simmons expressed his delight in the upcoming competition by saying, “You guys are going to make championships or headlines or whatever it is, but I’m thrilled to go play.”
When Simmons makes his return to Philadelphia on Tuesday night with the Brooklyn Nets to play the Sixers (7:30 ET, TNT) for the first time since a trade in February, he is in for a lot more than a contemptuous glare from jilted Philly fans. Simmons is due for much more than that.
When the Nets played in Philadelphia in March, the three-time All-Star was sidelined with a back issue and had to watch the game from the bench as he recovered. Simmons was heckled for the majority of the game and received disparaging chants from the crowd the moment he stepped foot on the court.
After a victory on Sunday, Simmons quipped, “I know what’s coming,” which elicited chuckles from the audience.
Just hold tight till he starts making actual plays.
Simmons remarked that there is “one thing about Philly supporters, and that is that they are wonderful.” They are true blue Philadelphians. Everything and anything having to do with Philadelphia. That is one quality of the city that I admire. It’s a town that loves its sports.
The fans made fun of the absent guard Simmons when he sat out the home opening of the previous season. The Mister Softee T-shirt, which featured Simmons with a swirl of ice cream on his head, was by far the most popular option.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity for him,” Jacque Vaughn, the coach of the Nets, stated. “He’ll have the support of his teammates, he’ll have a coach who believes in him, and all in all, we’re looking forward to going to play,” you said.
It is still difficult to accept that Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers were unable to resolve any issues that arose as a result of his decision not to take an open dunk during the 76ers’ Eastern Conference playoff loss to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 7. At times, it seems virtually impossible.
The relationship began to fall apart after Rivers and Embiid made indirect criticisms of Simmons, and it continued to deteriorate from there. In the summer of 2021, Simmons made a trade demand, which led to a tense few days in training camp. Simmons later revealed that mental health issues played a factor in his transfer demand. Simmons had back problems. Simmons was sent home for good, filed a grievance when the Sixers said he breached his contract (it was subsequently handled in a confidential agreement), and then shipped to Brooklyn in a trade for All-Star James Harden. The grievance was ultimately settled in a confidential agreement.
Simmons was unable to shake the drama in Brooklyn either, despite the fact that there is plenty to go around in the neighborhood as a result of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. As a result, Simmons has only played in 12 games so far this season. He is getting back into form and is coming off of a game against Memphis in which he scored a season-high 22 points. This was his first game in which he scored 20 points since he played for the 76ers in the playoffs in 2021.
Simmons explained, “I haven’t had many opportunities to get the reps in, so at this time I’m working on getting my reps in.”
Simmons was picked by Philadelphia after one season at LSU, where he played for only one year, and he finished his career with the 76ers averaging 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game. His incessant headaches, such as his inability to shoot beyond 15 feet (during his time with the 76ers, he was a 5-of-34 3-point shooter), overwhelmed his otherwise superb defensive and playmaking talents. His refusal to shoot beyond 15 feet was one example.
Simmons shocked everyone by returning to the Sixers just before the start of the previous season, but he was immediately benched from practice and given a one-game suspension for his actions. The penalty was meaningless because the player selected first overall in the 2016 draft had no intention of ever taking the field.
He’ll be going up against a struggling 76ers club that’s without three key players due to injury: Harden, Tyrese Maxey, and now Joel Embiid. Embiid was his previous All-Star partner and the cornerstone of the franchise, but their friendship has since deteriorated.
“There is a significant amount of history; nonetheless, there is in fact no history. It’s simply a regular game,” Embiid remarked.
The atmosphere inside the Wells Fargo Center is going to be rowdy and raucous. Simmons stressed that he will not become “psyched out” and promised that he will come to Philadelphia prepared to play.
Even if he pretends to be interested in finding out what all the commotion is about.
“Is there something going on?” he asked with a chuckle.
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