Ben Simmons is in the eye of the storm right now. The 76ers guard has demanded a trade after feeling slighted by the organization. On top of that, Simmons has taken drastic measures, boycotting training camp and preseason games in order to ensure he gets his way out of Philly.
But Simmons' run in the NBA has always been under the microscope. More specifically, his attitude. In fact, his attitude was a talking point even before he entered the NBA.
In 2016, Tracy McGrady attended Game 6 of the NBA Finals in Cleveland. One person who apparently came to his luxury suite in the arena was Ben Simmons. Simmons was entering the draft that year and was watching the game unfold before him.
McGrady hinted that Simmons was very disrespectful and came across as arrogant. He didn't appreciate the fact that Simmons was acting like he knew everybody, and didn't ingratiate himself with legends like McGrady, Vince Carter, and Bill Russell.
“There was one guy that just walked in there and acted like he didn’t know nobody.”
McGrady wasn't the only one who had problems with Simmons' attitude. Former NBA general manager Stu Jackson also had some words for Simmons prior to the draft. Jackson wasn't too impressed with Simmons and felt he had things to learn in order to be successful in the NBA.
“There’s just something about the way Simmons has handled himself, or been handled by his camp, that gives me a little bit cause for pause. Just in terms of whether mentally and personally he’s ready to make this jump to the NBA level.”
“I can’t get into a guy’s mind. You can only speculate and evaluate based on what you see. What I saw is a player in college, who was at LSU, that didn’t have a very good season. I saw a player that didn’t necessarily persevere as well as I would have liked through not having a very good season ... his body language at times bothered me."
“There's just some personal characteristics with the way he portrayed himself and performed that just gave me a reason to be a little bit hesitant about taking him number one.”
But not everyone was unhappy with Simmons. The man who would end up being his head coach, Brett Brown, thought that Simmons had no attitude problems, and it was just a perception that came across because of his youth. And he was looking forward to working with Simmons, especially because of his relationship with Simmons' family.
“I don’t and I think when you look at somebody being on the stage, coming from overseas and then being slapped on to the United States stage and having the blanket of everybody having an opinion, and scrutiny, and media assessments; and then, the LSU program, you know, didn’t win, and he didn’t do some things — I don’t.”
“I think it’s part of being 19, 20 years old. I know how he ticks. I know his family. And from a competitive standpoint and a growth perspective, I mean we all get it. They’re just teenagers. I think the foundation of his character and the foundation of his family, he’s been raised well. He comes from strong values. I don’t worry about those sort of conspiracy theories that at times surround Ben.”
“I think it has to be. How can it not be? You can’t make up the history that I have had with their family and then you fast-forward it to 2016 and connecting the dots to end up here is very unusual."
“He’s in a position to be selected first and we’re in a position where the ping-pong ball fell our way, and we have an opportunity to choose him. Knowledge of his background, his coaches, people that were around him, his family, I feel like how can that not be an advantage, and in many ways a great advantage?”
Simmons' trade demand has been the subject of great scrutiny, with many fans and analysts feeling like Simmons is not taking accountability for his poor performances in the NBA playoffs, and getting upset over criticism that is valid. But clearly, there have always been people talking about Simmons and his approach to the game.
Going forward, there is sure to be a lot of news about Simmons. The two parties have yet to reach an agreement on a trade. But Simmons is sure of leaving Philadelphia, selling his $3.1 million house in Philly.
And Simmons is understanding the financial ramifications of missing training camp and preseason games. But Simmons will be hoping that his future will be resolved before the new season kicks off in a couple of weeks.