The Ben Simmons saga didn't have major updates until yesterday when reports suggested the player could be returning to the Philadelphia 76ers soon. Cash flow issues could prompt the Australian point guard to backtrack and come back to the team.
Meanwhile, one of Ben's best friends talked about his situation, showing his support for the player again and describing his current issue with the team as a learning process. Talking with Tyler Tynes of GQ, Dwight Howard reflected on the ongoing situation between Simmons and the Sixers.
I talked to Ben Simmons a few months ago, and he mentioned you were someone he leaned on a lot last season in Philly. Can you tell me a bit about your friendship with him? The way you tell it, especially about how folks don’t understand you, your journeys are similar.
I know exactly what he’s going through. It’s a learning phase. I don’t think people understand how difficult it is to be an 18 year old kid to come into a world like this. It’s a different reality being in the NBA. Ben is young and being the face of a franchise going through changes. And everything you do will be publicized. All your mistakes, all your failures. When you do something bad, they put that out there more. The whole world sees it and they judge you based off your mistakes. All of us have problems we deal with on the daily. I don’t think people really and truly understand that part and they get offended when players don’t wanna talk or won’t do certain things.
With Ben, how can you speak on a situation when you don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors? It’s a lot of growth he’s had to go through. It’s very tough to be in the spotlight and deal with some of these things, especially when you feel like you’re alone. People say he isn’t where he needs to be as a player, but I’m proud of his growth. I’m always gonna stick up for him, he was my teammate. At the end of the day, even if we don’t play on the same team, you still my brother.
D-12 also said it's hard for normal people to open up about mental health issues, let alone professional athletes. That's a risky move, but it can also bring attention and raise awareness about his struggles.
When asked what he would do if he was Simmons, Howard said he would return to the team, but that doesn't seem to be part of Ben's plans right now.
If you were in his shoes, would you come back to Philadelphia?
Well, I would have to be a professional first and do my job. To the best of my ability. But he probably just wants a fresh start. That’s why I wanted to leave Orlando. I just wanted a fresh start. It wasn’t nothing wrong with the team or the city. I loved Orlando. Loved Orlando! Every time I left Orlando I couldn’t wait to get back home to Orlando..
It had nothing to do with the people of that city at all. I was there for eight years of life and I wanted to be somewhere else. Everybody deserves a chance to be reborn. I was way too comfortable there and I wanted to grow as a man. I feel like since I left Orlando all the things that I’ve wanted happened in my life. Everything. I’m thankful that me leaving Orlando happened because if not I would never be who I am today. I would’ve never grown.
We are yet to know how this situation will end for the player and the franchise. The Sixers aren't making things easy for Simmons and the player's strategy isn't working either. They need to find common ground to fix this problem and get the biggest benefit of it.
It's unclear if Simmons will actually return to the team this season. In the case that happens, it'd be interesting to see how Philly fans would react to his presence.