Following the embrace he made on the expected hostile treatment of the Philly fans, Ben Simmons can only be delighted of breaching through another challenging moment.
From the stand off he took, the unwillingness to participate in team activities, and forcing his way out of the City of Brotherly Love last season, there is no question that Simmons is fully aware of what will unfold on his first return in Philadelphia since the Sixers’ lopsided 2021 postseason exploits.
“I feel like I’m in a good place,” Simmons said, courtesy of ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “I’m happy, I’m doing what I love. So to be out there and have that experience was amazing. Obviously it wasn’t the result we wanted. It’s frustrating to lose a game like that, but I think it’s a good step forward.”
Since landing in Philly for the Tuesday marquee show, Simmons has been fielding plenty of jeers from the Sixers fans even coming from the Nets’ hotel building. The moment he entered the Wells Fargo Center and was called for pre-game player introduction, he was swarmed by overwhelming boos and chants of “F— Ben Simmons!”.
As he held the ball numerous times, fans across the arena were waving their heckling. But the noise level gradually dropped when Simmons fielded the game with such composure and confidence on certain occurrences.
The swingman compiled 11 points, 11 assists and 7 rebounds for the whole evening. Though it was a disappointing 115-106 loss collectively for them given the Sixers’ decimated star power, his performance in his return is considerably impressive.
“I thought it was going to be louder,” Simmons said while smiling about the raucous reception.
In the end, Simmons was all class for the Sixers faithful. During the game’s warmup, the Australian star greeted some fans as he signed some photographs and posted pictures.
For his part, the memories he has with the franchise – who drafted him for the first overall pick of the 2016 Draft – and the bond he molded with the supporters for four years will be cherished and appreciated amid the controversial divorce that they landed.
“It was nice to have support in Philadelphia still,” Simmons said about his pregame moment of spending some time with 76ers fans. “That was really cool to see. That’s a nice feeling.
“I think I did some things in Philadelphia that can be respected and appreciated. I didn’t think we all had bad times, so it was good to have moments like that.”