In the aftermath of the Philadelphia 76ers' second-round exit against the Atlanta Hawks in the 2021 playoffs, a lot of blame was placed on 3-time All-Star Ben Simmons. In particular, many pointed to him passing up an easy dunk as the catalyst for their loss.
However, just as winning in basketball is generally a team affair, so is losing. Ben Simmons may have made a mistake in a crucial moment, but the team lost as a whole. Former Sixer Dwight Howard has recently spoken out against the treatment that Ben Simmons has received from Philadelphia fans, and claimed that it wasn't just Simmons' fault that the team lost.
I just didn't like the fact that whatever was going on the inside had to be made public knowledge. Now obviously, I'm there with Ben a lot. He's one of my closest friends. So I was just upset to hear all of the things that was being said about him.
I was just like "Man instead of saying it publically, just address the person behind closed doors. So now it doesn't look so bad."
When we played the Hawks and we lost, I was upset at Ben on that play. I wanted him to dunk the ball and tear the rim down. But he didn't do it, and it wasn't just his fault that we lost that series. So my thing was, we can't just blame him.
There's no doubt that the passed-up dunk played a role in the 76ers losing against the Hawks. Ben Simmons isn't blameless. But at the same time, there is an argument that the team could have played better as a whole, and there were definitely times where it looked like they let the foot off the pedal, such as when they blew a 26 point lead in Game 5 of that series.
Ben Simmons is still a good player, and a lot of teams were reported as being interested in him previously. The 76ers were reportedly holding discussions with 10 teams about Ben Simmons, which would be a third of the league. Hopefully, we see Ben Simmons perform well this year when he ends up playing, whether it be in Philadelphia or otherwise.