When Doc Rivers joined the Philadelphia 76ers as head coach, he was very vocally supportive of Ben Simmons, defending him from the widespread criticism about his lack of shooting ability. However, that didn't count for much after Rivers called the point guard out following Philly's embarrassing loss to Atlanta in the Eastern Conference semifinals in last season's playoffs.
Rivers' comments were one of the issues that Ben had which led to his spectacular fallout with the Sixers franchise. In a recent piece by Ramona Shelburne for ESPN, it was further revealed that Simmons was reportedly frustrated with Rivers not going to Los Angeles to see him train earlier in the season. Doc himself had his opinion about this development, speaking to the Bucks County Courier Network on Tuesday.
"That's the first time I've ever heard that," Rivers told the Bucks County Courier Times, part of the USA TODAY Network, on Tuesday afternoon. "There's nobody that's been more supportive than me. I have a tape someone sent me of almost an hour of me over and over (praising Simmons). You heard me last year every day.
"It's all posturing. That's why you haven't heard me – I don't get involved in all that stuff. I'll leave that up to the front office and Ben's camp. I'm staying out of that part. But, listen, some of this stuff I laugh at and I feel bad. I think Ben's a good kid. I want Ben to do well."
"We need people to tell us the truth," Rivers said. "Unfortunately as a coach in the NBA, I have to do it a lot. I've accepted it as a coach over the years. Some handle it well (and) some don't. Sometimes I don't deliver it well, even though I try. I'm not perfect, either.
"At the end of the day, everything I try to do is about winning. The people who can handle that, can handle me very well. The people that can't, probably don't handle me well. And I don't lose an ounce of sleep over it."
"I always have supported Ben," Rivers said. "I want him to do well. It's just the excuses and all that stuff. One of the things I tell all my players is that respect is a two-way street, especially these young guys. You can't expect to ignore us or not listen and then want us to do something different to you. You have to respect each other to be successful in life."
Simmons has seemingly doubled down on his intention of never suiting up for the Sixers again, and the sooner he is traded, the sooner the NBA world can move on from this saga. For his part, Rivers is doing a great job with Philly this season so far, he has led them to the second seed in the Eastern Conference, right in the mix for the first seed. While a move before the trade deadline involving Simmons seems unlikely, anything can still happen if Philly can get their hands on what they think is a suitable return.