It wasn’t always sunny in Philadelphia for former 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons. After being celebrated as the first No. 1 pick for the franchise since Allen Iverson in the 90s, Simmons faced a lot of criticism throughout his tenure on the Sixers for several reasons — one mainly being his lack of shooting as a point guard.
Despite hearing a ton of criticism from the Philly fan base throughout the years, Simmons was supported up until his final game in a Sixers uniform. As the Sixers faced the Atlanta Hawks in round two of the 2021 NBA Playoffs, Simmons lost a lot of supporters when he passed up on a dunk in a critical moment in the fourth quarter of Game 7 against Atlanta.
Following the series loss, Simmons suggested he was still all in on remaining with the 76ers. However, his actions said otherwise.
Not long after losing to the Hawks, the Sixers star requested a trade. That move fired up the infamous Ben Simmons saga in Philadelphia, which lasted more than half the 2021-2022 season.
There were plenty of rumored reasons why Simmons wanted out of Philly. One of them was that Simmons felt a lack of support from the fans.
But on a recent episode of ‘The Old Man and the Three’ podcast, Simmons told former Sixers sharpshooter JJ Redick that his rocky relationship with the fans in Philly is something that he values, and it seems there aren’t any hard feelings towards Philadelphia’s outspoken supporters.
Simmons Talks Philly
“My experience playing there was incredible,” said Simmons. “Like, for the most part, it was incredible. I had a great time. Like, the fans are unbelievable. I still have an apartment there. So I do own some real estate in Philadelphia, still. So I feel like I’m part of Philly still, but it’s just unique.”
Although Simmons wasn’t a fan of the constant opinions thrown his way in the comments sections of his social media posts, the three-time All-Star appreciates the experience when he looks back on his tenure with the 76ers.
“Being in Brooklyn now, it’s completely different,” he continued. “Like this is a different experience for me, and I value just that time I did spend in Philly because I was able to learn and grow in that city, and I got friends for life there. My brother lives there. Like, I got family there. So, yeah. Philly’s great. I think people have like a thought that think that I hate it.”
Regardless of Simmons’ positive thoughts toward Sixers fans, the star guard will struggle to receive a warm reception when he returns to the City of Brotherly Love during the 2022-2023 season. While he received a preview of what’s to come during pregame warmups last season, Simmons’ Nets debut in Philadelphia won’t happen until November 22.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.