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Nets' Ben Simmons: Playing For 76ers Was 'Incredible'; Fans Were 'Unbelievable'

Scott Polacek

Things surely didn't work out as many envisioned when the Philadelphia 76ers selected Ben Simmons with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2016 NBA draft, but the Brooklyn Nets guard still has love for the city and its fans.

During an appearance on The Old Man and The Three podcast with former teammate JJ Redick, Simmons discussed his time in Philadelphia.

While he granted there is more noise and criticism that comes with playing in the city compared to other locations, he said: "Philly is obviously a sports city. In my experience, playing there was incredible. Like, for the most part, it was incredible. I had a great time. Like, the fans were unbelievable."

The Simmons story in Philadelphia is somewhat of a complicated one.

On the one hand, he was quite accomplished during his four seasons on the court with the 76ers and amassed a resume that included the Rookie of the Year, three All-Star selections, an All-NBA third-team nod and two All-Defensive first-team selections. The team also went to the playoffs in each of those four seasons.

Yet the more dominant theme was a sense of falling short of expectations.

Despite the one-two punch of Simmons and Joel Embiid, the 76ers never advanced past the second round of the playoffs. Simmons never developed an outside shot, which allowed opposing defenses to pack the lane, double down on Embiid and frustrate the Philadelphia offense in the most important moments.

The LSU product also missed his entire first season with injury and didn't take the court at all in 2021-22 before or after he was traded to the Nets.

Throw in his poor play in a shocking second-round loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the 2021 playoffs that culminated in him passing up an open dunk opportunity in crunch time of Game 7—which led to criticism from both Embiid and head coach Doc Rivers—and there was plenty left to be desired.

Simmons and the 76ers also reached a settlement this summer regarding his grievance over the salary the team withheld amid his absence during the 2021-22 campaign.

While Simmons didn't play in Philadelphia when the Nets came to town last season, that didn't stop the fans from mercilessly booing him on the bench and even in warm-ups.

The reception figures to be quite similar in 2022-23, especially if he is actually on the court when Brooklyn comes to town. Yet those boos apparently didn't take away some of his positive feelings for the city or the fans given his latest comments.

   

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