Ben Simmons, explained

October 20, 2021
The GIST: The NBA season is only one day old, but the aforementioned Ben Simmons and Philadelphia 76ers drama has been going on since last season.
Sports NewsBasketball
Ben Simmons, explained

The background: Simmons was drafted first overall by the Sixers in 2016, though his off-court demeanor stirred up some controversy. After starting his NBA career in 2017, Simmons won Rookie of the Year and is already a three-time All-Star.

  • Despite his usually stellar on-court performance, things took a turn when Simmons had a poor (read: brutal) showing during the 2021 postseason, and teammates and Sixers coach Doc Rivers were openly critical of Simmons’ performance.
  • In August, Simmons publicly declared he didn’t want to play for the team anymore, said he wouldn’t attend training camp and requested a trade. The 76ers wouldn’t grant that, and Simmons ultimately (and surprisingly) reported to Philly last Monday.

The latest: Simmons rejoined the team Friday, but his first interactions were tense. During Monday’s practice, he barely engaged with his teammates, put little effort into drills, carried a cell phone in his pocket and skipped out on a team huddle.

  • Yesterday, Rivers had enough. After Simmons refused to join a drill, Rivers threw Simmons out of practice, called him “a distraction” in a post-practice press conference and had him suspended for one game for “detrimental behavior.”
  • The team also fined Simmons $1.4 million for the four preseason games he missed and additional undisclosed amounts for missed practices and team meetings.

What’s next?: Simmons will miss tonight’s opener against the New Orleans Pelicans — which we’re sure his teammates are pretty happy about (exhibit A: Embiid’s quote above) — and he’ll likely face continued suspensions and/or fines if he doesn’t change his tune.

  • But the biggest consequence? Simmons’ behavior is causing his stock to fall, meaning a championship-contending team is pretty unlikely to trade for a guy who’s very obviously not a team player. He’s only hurting himself.