Philadelphia 76ers fans have been warming up their vocal cords all day to prepare for the first appearance by Ben Simmons in Philadelphia since he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets.
Simmons spent five seasons with the 76ers, averaging 15.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game. Notably, he won the 2017-18 Rookie of the Year award over the Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell. Simmons missed the entirety of the 2016-17 season, his first season in the league, with an injury.
Simmons’ latest saga began after the 2021 playoffs when the 76ers lost Game 7 of a second-round series against the Atlanta Hawks. Simmons drew criticism from 76ers fans due to his performance in the elimination game.
The Australian native dished out 13 assists, grabbed eight rebounds and played good defense, but scored just five points, only had four field goal attempts and passed up what appeared to be an open dunk that would have tied the game with three minutes left in the fourth quarter, drawing boos from Sixers fans.
Ben Simmons did not just pass this up... pic.twitter.com/4JyM7ZHNkJ— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 21, 2021
Simmons requested a trade from Philadelphia during the offseason, then refused to play all season for the 76ers. He told the team that “he wasn’t mentally ready to play to his expectations and needed time to step away,” according to ESPN.
On Feb. 10, Brooklyn traded James Harden and former Jazzman Paul Millsap to Philadelphia for Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round draft picks.
Needless to say, because of his trade request and refusal to play for Philadelphia, he isn’t the most popular person in the City of Brotherly Love.
Simmons still hasn’t played for Brooklyn as he tries to recover from back soreness, but will sit on the bench tonight in Philadelphia as the Sixers host the Nets at 5:30 p.m. MST on TNT.
“He’s on our team, he needs to be with his teammates and get the whole Philly thing out of the way a little bit. Maybe it never goes away, but the first time it’s always nice to kind of deal with it and move on,” Brooklyn coach Steve Nash told ESPN.
Simmons is expected to receive a hostile reaction from the Philadelphia faithful at the Wells Fargo Center.
Pat Gallen of CBS Philadelphia reports that security will be “beefed up” around Brooklyn’s bench tonight.