No one knows just how long it’ll be, if ever, before Philadelphia 76ers fans are able to move past the Ben Simmons drama. If there’s one fanbase that knows how to hold a grudge, it’s Philly. From his postseason woes to a tumultuous trade request, Simmons was the ire of a city that’s known for its undying commitment to sports franchises. To have a top draft pick leave in such an uproarious fashion made him the city’s public enemy No. 1.
But for Ben Simmons, it seems like the sentiment isn’t shared. In a recent appearance on The Old Man and The Three podcast, in which he sat down with his former Philadelphia 76ers teammate, JJ Redick, the three-time All-Star didn’t hold back when discussing loudmouth fans and analysts in the City of Brotherly Love.
“People in Philly just wanna have something to say about f*****g anything man. Literally everything. I post a picture of a f*****g car or dog, I got reporters saying ‘He should be in the f*****g gym,’ like come on man.
But Philly is obviously a sports city and my experience playing there was incredible — for the most part, it was incredible. I had a great time. The fans are unbelievable. I still have an apartment there, so I do own some real estate in Philadelphia, so I feel like I’m part of Philly still.
It’s just unique. Like even being in Brooklyn now, it’s completely different. This is a different experience for me and I value that time I did spend in Philly cause I was able to learn and grow in that city, and I got friends for life there, I got my brother lives there. I got family there. Philly’s great. I don’t get that people think I have the thought that I hate it.”
Ben Simmons seems way less hung up on Philadelphia 76ers drama than fans.
Being a fan of a sports franchise can be difficult — especially when the team fails to give you many reasons to celebrate. ‘The Process’ was a tough pill to swallow for many fans, who grew to love the team with the standard set by legends like Julius Erving, Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson. The selection of Ben Simmons was supposed to be the ultimate turning point following many years of hardship, but it wasn’t, and that was understandably hard to grapple with.
Although he’s a special player with one-of-a-kind playmaking talent and defensive versatility, Ben Simmons isn’t, and likely won’t ever be, on par with those stars. More so, his fit with superstar center Joel Embiid never quite made sense in the first place. Now that it’s in the past, it’s easy to glance at the new-look Sixers and justifiably believe the team is in a much better place than it ever was with Simmons as one of its stars.
However, the fury that Philadelphia 76ers fans felt for Ben Simmons, and expected that he felt back, was merely a projection of false hope and pent-up frustrations. At his core, Simmons grew to love Philadelphia, even in spite of the booing fans, constant criticism and a sports media world that held no punches. In the end, they reflected the resilient, fighting spirit of the city and while he grew to love it, Ben Simmons ultimately decided that it wasn’t the best place for his mental wellbeing and basketball development.
Even though he is publically expressing his love for the city, it’ll be interesting to see how long it will take for the city to do anything remotely close to embracing him again.