The Ben Simmons saga through the second half of 2021 was one of the biggest talking points in all of basketball. Simmons was believed to be one of the best young prospects in the NBA after being drafted but didn't develop a jump shot. Tensions in the Philly locker room peaked after the team was eliminated by the Atlanta Hawks, with Simmons passing out an easy layup in crunch time of the elimination game.
Simmons has opened up about how it felt to be iced out by co-star Joel Embiid and coach Doc Rivers after the playoffs with J.J. Redick on his podcast.
Simmons: I'm already dealing with a lot mentally in life, as a lot of people do, but it got to a point where after that [Hawks] series I'm getting - it's from the people you're supposed to have the support from, that comfort from, and I wasn't getting that either. So it was a toll on me. And then mentally I just, it killed me. I was like, 'F***.' No energy for anything, I was in a dark place. It took me a long time - the first thing for me was to identify, 'Okay, I've gotta really get right. It's not a physical thing, it's mentally.' I think that first thing of acknowledging it was a huge step for me. [...] I think that was tough for me, knowing I didn't really have that support either, from teammates or whatever it was at the time -
Redick: No, let's call it like it is. Let's call it like it is. You know that I love Joel [Embiid] and you know that I love Doc [Rivers], but they essentially threw you under the bus after Game 7.
Simmons: For sure, for sure.
Redick: Like, that's indisputable.
Simmons: Yeah. (h/t Yahoo)
Did The 76ers Show A Lack Of Support For Ben Simmons?
At that moment, the 76ers may have felt justified in treating Simmons the way they did. He spent years not becoming a consistent jump shooter for their team and he refused to take shots in the fourth quarter of that series. But that behavior should've indicated to everyone that Ben was going through a crisis of confidence and needed support instead of a scolding.
The situation is in the past now, as the 76ers look to contend with their new star duo of James Harden and Embiid. Simmons is going to be the ultimate defensive weapon on a team alongside Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. There is a high chance these teams end up meeting in the 2023 Playoffs, which will be a sensational matchup.