PHILADELPHIA — The City of Brotherly Love lived up to its name when Nets star Ben Simmons was walking off the court after warming up for Tuesday night’s battle between Brooklyn and the Philadelphia 76ers. A number of fans wearing Ben Simmons jerseys and Nets gear stood near the tunnel to show their support for the overanalyzed point guard.
The crowd was expected to be hostile inside the Wells Fargo Center, but the reaction was minimal while Simmons was on the floor for pregame warmups. Fans had still been entering which could have played into the atmosphere, but near the court, a number of fans were there to show their support.
A young female fan stood with a sign that read in part “Ben I’M UR #1 FAN” and another group of kids anxiously watched as Simmons went through his pregame routine.
Ben Simmons showing love to those that came out to support him in Wells Fargo Center. Walked into the crowd and signed jerseys and posed for pics pic.twitter.com/zrtMq5FMNr
— Christian Arnold (@C_Arnold01) November 22, 2022
The group was noticeable enough that Simmons took a detour as he was walking off the court to sign autographs and pose for photos. At one point he hopped over a row of seats to reach the fans and dapped another young fan before posing for a picture with him.
Simmons continued to sign autographs as he walked into the tunnel followed by a group of cameras and reporters.
Tuesday marked the first time Simmons was going to play at Wells Fargo Center. He did return last March in the Nets’ first game between the two teams following the trade, but he was in street clothes.
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Simmons, Seth Curry and Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn had all discussed the hostile environment that they expected. Vaughn even used a humorous reference to describe the anticipated atmosphere.
“This is a Vince Vaughn earmuffs night tonight my man,” Vaughn said, referencing the hit movie Old School. “It ain’t got nothing to do with the weather either. I think he should embrace it. Enjoy it. It’s a part of sports. Philly, they have great fans. What I want to see is his teammates have his back, embrace him, enjoy this moment. You get to hoop in front of people who are cheering for you, against you, just hoop man.”