Did Ben Simmons try to fake a COVID-19 exposure to avoid playing in Game 7 against the Hawks?
Jesus Christ. A new report was released today on ESPN.com from Ramona Shelbourne regarding Ben Simmons and the evolution of one of the most bizarre off seasons in sports history. I honestly thought that the reports surrounding Simmons couldn’t get any more weird. There have been a million reports over the last few months regarding Simmons. It’s been a struggle to sort through what was real, what was basically clickbait, and what stories were being fed to the media directly from Klutch Sports. Here are a few key takeaways from the most recent report.
When Ben Simmons showed up unannounced to the Wells Fargo Center minutes before the tipoff of the 76ers preseason game against the Nets, everyone initially thought that Ben Simmons was acting on his own accord and did so without notifying Klutch Sports and his agent, Rich Paul. Now, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The text message that was sent to Elton Brand to notifying him that Ben Simmons was outside of the Wells Fargo Center came from Rich Paul, so it appears that Klutch Sports and Ben Simmons were still on the same page when he arrived back in Philadelphia.
Still to this day, we have zero clue why Ben Simmons returned to Philadelphia after a standoff that lasted the entire offseason and into training camp and preseason for the 76ers. Did he return to stop the fines? Is he actually back with the 76ers? Will he clear COVID-19 protocols and play tonight in the 76ers preseason finale against the Pistons in Detroit? Literally have zero clue.
One thing that everyone seems to be on the same page about, is that Klutch Sports and Ben Simmons tried everything possible to get Simmons out of Philadelphia and they failed miserably. Everything that was said over the offseason was just another attempt to create leverage to get Simmons out of Philadelphia. It obviously didn’t work, and that’s where things get weird again. According to Ramona Shelbourne, in a meeting with Elton Brand, Doc Rivers, and Daryl Morey, Simmons offered zero insight and as we all know, hasn’t even talked to his teammates.
Shelbourne continues with her article, which is blocked behind a dumb ESPN+ paywall, saying that Ben Simmons hitting rock bottom actually might have happened before the conclusion of the 76ers-Hawks playoff series. Simmons, as we all know, was struggling big time from the foul line and ultimately let that mental block flow over to literally being scared to shoot, and even dunk a basketball.
Here’s where things get interesting. Check out this snippet from the article:
Simmons was being held out of the team’s shootaround, he told them, due to a possible exposure to a team masseuse, who’d returned an inconclusive COVID-19 test.
Several players were questioned about whether they’d seen her that morning, but only Simmons said that he had.
“He answered the question honestly, without thinking of the implications,” says one source close to Simmons.
But according to multiple sources, many within the team questioned whether Simmons had actually seen the masseuse — or was just trying to get out of playing as he battled the basketball version of the yips.
Later in the day, the staffer and Simmons’ test results came back negative, according to sources, and he was cleared to play in the game. But he wasn’t in a good place, and neither were the Sixers.
“He was thrown,” the source says.
The 76ers were questioning whether Ben Simmons was lying about a COVID test, which is obviously terrible for several reasons. There was clearly already mistrust between the 76ers and Ben Simmons. To even question if and when Ben Simmons saw a masseuse is a massive red flag about the organization and where Simmons was mentally heading into Game 7.
Just another example of how ugly the situation between Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers actually was. Of course, none of that means jack shit now. We are all still waiting to see what the next move is for the 76ers and Simmons will be, with the regular season starting next week.
There are other reports saying that Ben Simmons is back with the 76ers and just “going through the motions” which would lend truth to him just being there so he doesn’t gets fined. I think the 76ers want Ben Simmons back on the floor and Simmons hasn’t changed much mentally from where he was over the offseason and now possibly late last season.
The story will continue and without a doubt get more bizarre over the next week. Grab your popcorn.