The date was June 20, 2021, when everything changed for Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers. That was when Simmons missed that wide open shot in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Atlanta Hawks. Yes, some fans and even some within the organization are starting to wonder if the combination of Joel Embiid and Simmons could take the next step. However, that moment precipitated Simon’s ticket to leave Philadelphia.
It got so big that it became a joke on social media for months.
Simmons will not play another game for the 76ers because he asked for a trade after losing Game 7 which coincided with Doc Rivers saying, “I don’t know that answer” when asked if Simmons could be the point guard on the championship team. Simmons would report to the 76ers late in the next season and go back and forth with the organization about everything from the severity of his injury to his current state of mind.
The situation came to a head when Simmons was kicked out of practice for refusing to take a drill. On February 10, 2022, the 76ers completed a deal by sending Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, and Andre Drummond in the 2022 first-round (unprotected) and 2027 first-round (protected) picks to the Brooklyn Nets for James Harden and Paul Millsap.
Even with the completion of the trade, 76ers fans weren’t done with Simmons. A month after trading Simmons for Harden last season, the Nets traveled to Philadelphia to face the 76ers in what was supposed to be Simmons’ first game against his former team. However, Simmons was in street clothes, but that didn’t stop 76ers fans from telling him exactly how they felt.
Fans booed and sang obscenities to Simmons while the former All-Star was benched by the Nets. Still, those boos will sound like a church choir compared to what he’ll see once he steps onto the court in Tuesday’s highly anticipated game with the 76ers. Coach Jack Vaughn knows precisely what position Simmons is in.
“It’s probably the most hostile environment he’s ever been in,” says Nets coach Jack Vaughn. “And overcoming that hurdle would be tremendous for who he is now and get back to the level he wants to get back to.”
Simmons isn’t sure how he’ll react in the ring.
“My mind tells me, ‘Go be it,'” Simmons told ESPN. “But then my body tries to catch up. So I feel like I’m progressing every day, every game. Just building.”
It was not an easy transition for Simmons and the Nets. Simmons didn’t play at all last year for Brooklyn, which caused his own set of issues, and so far this year he’s played in 12 of the net’s 17 games. However, the last two games were some of Simmons’ best basketball games in a long time. Simmons is 17-19 from the field with 21 rebounds and 12 assists in his last two games on Net.
Simmons’ improved play comes at a great time as he prepares for his debut on the court as a Philadelphia contender. We don’t know how the game will play out even though the 76ers will be without Harden, Embiid, and Tyrese Maxey, but we do know that 76ers fans don’t forget a fact that Simmons himself is aware of. Simmons was asked if enough time had passed for the reception not to be so bad. Simmons replied
“In Philly?” The All-Stars responded three times. “Come now. I know what’s coming.”
If you thought Santa was booed and snowballed badly by Philadelphia fans, wait until Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.