Ben Simmons returned to South Philly for the first time since getting traded to the Brooklyn Nets last March. At the time, Simmons was not an active participant for Brooklyn and spent the matchup on the bench rooting for his team.
Simmons heard a lot of heckling, as expected. Therefore, he knows what to expect when he returns for the second time to play in front of Sixers fans for the first time since the 2021 playoffs, which marks the last time Simmons donned a 76ers uniform.
Following the Nets’ Sunday night matchup, Simmons addressed the media after his best performance in a Brooklyn uniform. When asked if he believed enough time has passed where the reception from Sixers fans in his return on Tuesday night won’t be as bad this time around, Simmons joked about how there is no chance that will be the case.
“In Philly?” the three-time All-Star fired back. “Come on now. I know what’s coming.”
While it seems Simmons is taking a dig at his former fan base, the veteran guard understands that the intense environment comes with the territory of playing professional sports in Philadelphia. Therefore, he showed a lot of respect for it.
“It’s part of the game,” Simmons continued. “One thing about Philly fans, they’re incredible. They’re die-hard Philly. Everything Philly, whatever it is. I respect that about the city. It’s a sports town. I was talking to Yuta before the game about what it’s like to play in Philly. You know, it’s an incredible opportunity to put on whatever jersey it is. That’s Philly — It’s a unique experience.”
Simmons is unlikely to get back on the good side of Sixers fans considering the way everything went down over the past year. Either way, the All-Star has said nothing but positive things about the city and its basketball team’s fan base following the drama that occurred last year.
On Tuesday, Simmons will get another taste of being the villain in Philadelphia when he takes the floor for the Nets against the Sixers for the first time in the regular season. While the matchup won’t be nearly as intriguing as it once was, considering the Sixers are missing several stars in Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey, the crowd’s reaction toward Simmons surely won’t change.