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One of Ben Simmons’ final moments in a Philadelphia 76ers jersey has been the talk around Philadelphia up until this day. 

In the final minutes of the Game 7 playoff matchup between the Sixers and the Atlanta Hawks in Philadelphia now two summers ago, Ben Simmons passed up a literal slam dunk over the much smaller Hawks star Trae Young.

At the time, it seemed Simmons’ confidence, which was at an all-time low, prevented him from making the right play. Instead of dunking the ball, which is a routine shot Simmons, the three-time All-Star passed it up to Matisse Thybulle, who got fouled.

Thybulle went to the free-throw line and knocked down just one of the two shots. After the Sixers dropped Game 7, Sixers center Joel Embiid pointed to that moment as the turning point in the game as the Sixers went downhill from that moment on.

A few days later, Simmons and his representation requested a trade, and the rest is history. Although Simmons was eventually dealt to the Brooklyn Nets at the trade deadline back in February, his final playoff series as a member of the Sixers is still discussed to this day.

Recently, Trae Young discussed the infamous dunk pass and came to Simmons’ defense.

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Young’s Defense

“I didn’t realize it at the moment what it was, but I mean, I looked at my phone [after the game], and everybody’s killing him,” Young told JJ Redick on The Old Man and the Three podcast

“In those moments, you spin; It’s a quick moment,” Young continued. “He may not have known that it was me. He sees a blue jersey right behind me that he can just drop off and maybe get a layup, so, I mean, it’s a bang-bang play, and it sucks for him. I understand that’s a tough play.”

Although he received tons of support throughout the playoffs as he struggled with his free throw shooting, Simmons’ unwillingness to dunk the ball in that critical moment created a wave of boos in South Philly on that June night in 2021. 

From then on, Simmons didn’t have as many supporters in Philadelphia and might’ve even created a narrative that he’s no longer a good player, which is something Trae Young certainly doesn’t agree with. 

“He’s a good player,” Young finished. “Like I hate how people talk about how bad of a player he is. That’s what I’m saying about recency bias. I think he’s a really good player, but I think one moment can get people turning.”

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

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