PHILADELPHIA — Ben Simmons knew precisely the kind of reception he was going to get from Sixers followers Tuesday evening contained in the Wells Fargo Center. After going by way of a contentious divorce with the staff that made him the No. 1 total decide in 2016, forcing his means out of Philadelphia earlier than the beginning of final season, he knew followers would loudly present their anger in quite a lot of methods.
But after practically racking up a triple-double with 11 factors, 11 assists and seven rebounds for the Brooklyn Nets in a 115-106 loss to the Sixers, Simmons mentioned he was simply glad he cleared one other emotional hurdle in his return.
“I really feel like I’m in a great place,” Simmons mentioned after the sport. “I’m completely happy, I’m doing what I like. So to be on the market and have that have was wonderful. Obviously it wasn’t the end result we wished. It’s irritating to lose a sport like that, however I believe it is a good step ahead.”
As was the case final season, when Simmons sat out the Nets’ win over the Sixers whereas rehabbing a again damage, followers chanted “F— Ben Simmons!” all through the evening and booed him each time he introduced the ball up the ground.
After it was over Tuesday, Simmons could not assist however smile on the reception, saying, “I assumed it was going to be louder.”
While Simmons admitted he would in all probability get the identical response in Philadelphia “without end,” given the way in which he left the staff and town, his Brooklyn teammates and coaches had been pleased with the way in which he embraced the second and cleared the subsequent hurdle in his restoration after offseason again surgical procedure.
“I believe it’s a psychological hurdle that you must overcome,” Nets guard Kyrie Irving mentioned of Simmons. “He performed extraordinarily properly a sport in the past after which got here in tonight, I believe he performed properly tonight. And we simply bought to be there for one another and help one another.”
Nets star ahead Kevin Durant, who went by way of an identical return sport when he went again to Oklahoma City for the primary time in February 2017 after signing with the Golden State Warriors, shared Irving’s sentiment.
“There’s quite a lot of feelings,” Durant mentioned. “You simply wish to play properly. We know the followers are going to be concerned and get excited — not get excited, however simply convey their finest. But that is in each enviornment. Everybody desires to see our staff fail. Nobody likes Ben, no one likes Ky, no one likes myself, so it is perhaps like that at each street enviornment.
“So it is simply one thing we bought to cope with. But I assumed [Simmons] did a terrific job of simply dealing with it and enjoying his sport, and we had possibilities to win, however we simply did not.”
Asked why he thinks so many individuals do not just like the Nets, Durant mentioned, “It’s quite a lot of stuff that in all probability elements into it. But when NBA followers do not such as you, they actually bought love for you. It’s simply misplaced love , I assume. But we get it. At the top of the day, individuals take pleasure in watching us play.”
Durant famous that Philadelphia followers handled Simmons the way in which they did just because he determined he wished to play for an additional staff in one other metropolis.
“I believe all of them simply had quite a lot of nice recollections with Ben and so they do not like the way it ended,” Durant mentioned, including that Sixers followers “wish to voice their frustration.”
“They really feel like they’re a part of the staff, they’re a part of the league, so followers wish to be heard,” he mentioned. “The final decade within the NBA quite a lot of followers have heard with social and simply how we spotlight the followers these days. You bought to understand each side. That’s a part of the sport. I believe Ben understands that. We all perceive that. The followers actually respect us as males, however there’s part of sports activities [that includes] heckling, being focused on the market. It’s all part of it.”