Ben Simmons said if he was to be traded, he would want to return to Philadelphia

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Ben Simmons loves Philadelphia, even if the fans there don’t always love him back.

In the same interview where Simmons talks about his readiness for a bounce-back season, he told Marc Spears of ESPN’s Andscape that he still loves Philadelphia and if he were to get traded anywhere, it would be back to the City of Brotherly Love. He also said considering the situation, it was “good timing” the 76ers traded him when they did (for James Harden).

“Obviously, the injury and everything that was going on didn’t help. But I think it gave me a chance to really appreciate it,” he said. “I’ll always have love for Philly. People always ask me like, ‘If you were to get traded again where you want it to be?’ I always say, ‘Just Philly. Philly is a second home to me.’ And in time, you learn and grow as people. I don’t really have anything bad to say about Philly. It was a crazy situation at the end, but it is what it is.”

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Simmons has professed his love for Philadelphia and its fans before, including last season before his new Nets team took on the 76ers. The feeling isn’t

Simmons was supposed to be the other big success story out of “The Process,” the No. 1 overall pick who they pictured would become the outside to Joel Embiid’s inside game. Simmons was voted Rookie of the Year and was a three-time All-Star with the Sixers, but he never developed a jump shot — Embiid ended up having more of an outside game — and that hole in Simmons’ game became a bigger problem in the playoffs. Simmons’ confidence in his shot seemed to fade, he battled back issues, and it all culminated in him passing the ball rather than dunking it in a critical playoff moment against the Hawks.

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That moment was the final straw, Philadelphia fans turned on him. Soon Simmons demanded a trade and blamed everyone but himself — Embiid, the 76ers front office — for why he wanted out, then he ended up sitting out more than half a season due to a holdout/back issue/mental health until he was traded for Harden.

Simmons returned to the court last season but was not near his All-Star self — he still wasn’t taking jumpers, with nearly 90% of his shots within 10 feet of the rim — and by mid-February he was shut down for the season again due to back pain. He says he’s ready to change the narrative this season — he’s healthy, working out, and wants to be the Nets’ primary shot creator again. Simmons has a lot to prove to earn that position back.

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And it would take a lot more than that to win Philly fans back over. A lot more.

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