PHILADELPHIA — A little more than nine months after Ben Simmons was traded to the Nets, the point guard returned to Philadelphia with a clearer perspective on things.
As he stood in front of a crowd of reporters in the bowels of Wells Fargo Center Simmons reiterated what he had said night about his love for the City of Brotherly Love. However, when it came to the way the fans perceived the circumstances around his departure he had a very blunt response.
“I can’t worry about everyone’s feelings. At the end of the day, I’m not here to make everybody happy,” Simmons said.
The response came after a reporter had asked Simmons about the fans’ frustration over the way he left and how the team never won a title while he was there. During his tenure in Philadelphia, the 76ers never made it past the Eastern Conference Semifinals and his reluctance to shoot during Game 7 against the Atlanta Hawks during the 2021 playoffs drew a wedge between Simmons and some of his Sixers teammates.
Joel Embiid was out of Tuesday’s game due to a foot injury, along with James Harden and Tyrese Maxey, which prevented the long-awaited chance to see Simmons go up against Embiid. Despite persistent questions about the relationship that Simmons has with Embiid still, he spoke positively about his time playing with the Sixers star.
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“Highlights, we had a lot of highlights. And we got a lot of great times,” Simmons said. “I got a lot of love for Joel too. Obviously didn’t work out but that’s life. Not everything works out in your favor. So I wish him the best. Obviously not a championship against us, but the best.”
Simmons had been coy when pressed if he had planned to speak with Embiid at some point during Tuesday’s game. The Brooklyn guard expected that Embiid would be in the building for the Atlantic Division matchup and jokingly said “we’re going to do our secret handshake.”
And Simmons appeared to brush off a question about why he and Embiid never had the best of relationships.
“I mean, you’re not cool with everybody. You know, you’re not texting everybody,” he explained. “I think there are certain people that you just don’t talk to all the time. I got friends that I don’t talk to all the time, but we’re still cool, but that’s just how life went.”
Embiid did have a lot to say about the Simmons situation which was sure to not sit well with the Nets star, but Embiid did try to downplay things earlier this week.
“It’s another game on the schedule,” Embiid told Philadelphia media. “I don’t know those guys. I have nothing against those guys. It’s Brooklyn against Philly. Hopefully, I feel better for that game. It’s the same goal. To try go out and win. Obviously, we’re down a lot of guys right now, so we have to find ways.”
Tuesday not only marked the return of Simmons, but also of Seth Curry. It wasn’t the first time that Curry had returned to Philly having played during the March 10 game last season.
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Similar to Simmons, Curry appreciated his time with the 76ers and the passionate fanbase that supports the team.
“I played some good basketball a majority of the time we had a really good team,” Curry said. “Played a lot of good basketball (in the) regular season, playoffs, Just like I said the fans are one of a kind and bring it every night. It’s one of the things I miss about playing here and I always enjoyed my time.”