Simmons would welcome a trade … back to the Sixers? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Just when we thought we were out, he pulls himself back in.
Former Sixers guard Ben Simmons did everything he could to get himself off the Sixers’ roster 18 months ago, and he succeeded. Since his trade to the Brooklyn Nets, he has missed more games than he has played, appearing to be everything from a cautionary tale to a meme. Everything except a productive member of an NBA franchise.
But in a recent interview with Marc J. Spears for a story on Andscape.com, Simmons says he is physically and mentally ready to make his mark on the Nets.
And after blaming Joel Embiid, Doc Rivers, the front office — everyone except Franklin the Sixers’ mascot — for why he wanted to be traded away, apparently, he still has love for Philly.
“I’ll always have love for Philly,” Simmons said. “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.”
Simmons professing his love for the city, while seemingly out of character, isn’t new. He praised Sixers fans before his first game at Wells Fargo Center as a member of the Nets last November, when he was asked how he remembered his time with the franchise.
“I remember I had a lot, a lot of great moments, you know, we shared a lot of moments here,” Simmons said. “A lot of ups and downs. This is where I became a man, I feel like.
“So, I’ve always had a lot of respect for Philly in that way and the fan base, you know, it’s a special fan base.”
They say time heals all wounds, and it sounds like he may be moving past the acrimony that led him to this point. But one part of the recent interview will stick in the craw of every Sixers fan on Earth.
He was asked about Game 7 of the 2021 Eastern Conference semifinals — how was that only 26 months ago? — when he infamously passed up a wide-open dunk to tie the game for a pass to Matisse Thybulle, who was fouled. The rest is history. At least for the fans.
“I don’t even remember that game anymore,” Simmons said. “To me, I made a play. I gave it to somebody who’s probably going to shoot better from the free throw at that moment of the game. It didn’t work, but I made a play.”
There’s the Ben Simmons we remember.
Sixers fans would love to forget that game, that moment: a golden opportunity to grab momentum in a tight Game 7 at home, wasted. Sixers fans would pay green money to un-remember that play.
On top of that, he believes he “made a play.” That’s true. It was the wrong play, a pass rather than a dunk, made by a player who would rather set himself on fire than shoot a free throw.
If Simmons wonders why Sixers fans react to him the way they do and will forever, it’s actually not that play itself, but the lack of self-awareness to continue to ignore his mistakes.
Someday he’ll learn, but not today.