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Georges Niang Downplays Chippy Moment With Ben Simmons

Georges Niang discusses the controversial dust-up with former 76er Ben Simmons.

Georges Niang looked forward to playing alongside Ben Simmons after he was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers from the Utah Jazz two summers ago. Going into the 2021 offseason, Niang understood that Simmons might hold out from his new team.

Sure enough, Simmons stuck to his public plan and refused to take the court with the Sixers in 2021-2022. Months later, he got his wish and was traded to the Brooklyn Nets.

Simmons and Niang never played together — but they played against one another as opponents on Tuesday night in South Philly. As Simmons made his first return to the Wells Fargo Center as an active member of the Nets, the three-time All-Star played the role of the villain as he embraced the hostile crowd and even got a little chippy with Niang.

Always outspoken on the floor, Niang didn’t do anything he typically wouldn’t do when playing against the Nets. There were moments he got fired up and even exchanged words with Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons. In one instance where Niang and Simmons got tangled up on a Sixers defensive possession, Niang was whistled for a foul away from the ball. Based on what the referees saw, they believed that a review was necessary. 

Niang was hit with a flagrant foul, a decision that was met with tons of criticism from the home crowd since there wasn’t a lot going on.

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After the game, Niang downplayed the incident claiming there was nothing more to the minor dust-up.

“I think it was just a regular basketball thing,” said Niang on Tuesday night. “We ran into each other, they thought it was more than that. It’s unfortunate, but move on and continue to fight for another day.”

Niang and Simmons didn’t let the situation boil into anything bigger. While both players jawed at each other a bit following the review, there weren’t any other follow-up incidents. 

Niang finished Tuesday night’s game by scoring 16 points off the Sixers’ bench. The frustration from the incident clearly didn’t get to his head as the sharpshooter went 4-5 from three, helping the Sixers defeat the Nets 115-106. 

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.