Ben Simmons breaks silence, speaks for first time since trade to Brooklyn Nets from 76ers
In his first public appearance since June, Ben Simmons fielded questions from the Brooklyn media as an introduction to his new team. There were various questions surrounding his relationship with Philadelphia and the 76ers, along with the speculation around his mental health battle, and least important his fit with the Nets and how he sees their future.
Simmons and Philadelphia
The questions about his fractured relationship with the 76ers flooded in, and while Simmons mostly deflected, there were some interesting comments throughout the media availability. According to Simmons, he did not blame any singular player, coach, or the fans but he decided that he needed to leave this team due to how he felt personally. He didn’t feel like himself when playing for the 76ers, and he was feeling that way well before the Hawks series and the infamous Game 7 loss.
Simmons mentioned that the comments made by Doc Rivers were not a factor in his decision to not play this season. His reasoning was solely based on himself and how he did not feel mentally equipped to play yet this year.
The relationships that appeared to be visibly broken was the one with Joel Embiid and Daryl Morey. He mentioned that he spoke with Elton Brand, Doc Rivers, Tobias Harris after the trade deadline and that they were supportive of him, and happy that he was able to go somewhere new. When asked if he spoke to Joel Embiid, he simply responded with:
“No, I did not.”
An underrated part of the presser was that he explicitly mentioned the 76ers playoff series against the Miami Heat in 2018, as the way he preferred to play. For those that don’t recall, Joel Embiid missed a significant part of that series due to an orbital bone fracture, and Simmons name-dropped JJ Redick, Marco Bellinelli, and a few others to credit them with spreading the floor and playing “team basketball”.
Mental Health Speculations
There were plenty of questions regarding his mental health, and how he has been dealing with it. When asked if he knew when he would be coming back to the court, he said he had no timetable but he has been ramping it up. He took the moral high ground when asking if he was angry at those questioning the validity of his struggles, said “he can’t tell people how to feel”.
Simmons was asked about the people hating on him and discrediting the mental health, in response he said “They should be happy I’m smiling. I’ve had some dark times over the last 6 months…People are going to say what they want.”
He discussed how he just wanted to feel like himself again, and play basketball the way that he knew how. This trade to Brooklyn was a way for him to have a new start, and will ultimately help him get back on the floor.
When asked is he was going to play on March 10th in Philadelphia, he emphatically answered by saying, “I hope so”. That may come as a surprise to some fans, but he seemed eager to come back to the Wells Fargo Center.
A reporter asked about the fit in Brooklyn, in which he responded by saying “It’s going to be scary”, when referring to the combination of himself, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving. He hopes to get back to a defensive presence and be a playmaker for the offense. He also noted that he expects there to be a rivalry between Brooklyn and Philadelphia, but he likes it that way.
Overall, Simmons seemed to be in good spirits. After months of reports and sources from different places this was the first time we have heard from Ben himself, and for that we can be grateful to finally hear about the situation from the horse’s mouth. His time here has ended, and he has moved on to a new team, but this was a firm reminder that there will always be some bad blood between the two sides.
Mandatory Credit: Getty Images