Tobias Harris took the floor in Camden, New Jersey, for practice on Sunday afternoon after missing the Sixers' last two preseason games. As he's dealing with a minor setback due to knee soreness, Harris has been on and off the court as of late.
But he made his return on Sunday, and he wasn't the only player to do so. For the first time since last year's Game 7 playoff loss, Ben Simmons took the court with his Sixers teammates. Although the veteran requested a trade early on in the offseason, the 76ers haven't found a deal worth truly exploring.
For months, they've made it clear they wanted Simmons back with the team. Tobias Harris was among key 76ers veterans to clarify that they are a better team with Simmons than without him. Over the last few weeks, the situation has gotten somewhat ugly, leaving many to believe that Simmons' return could cause some awkwardness when he faces his teammates. On Sunday, Harris offered some minor details on how everything went.
"No," he said when asked if Simmons' arrival was awkward at first. "It was perfectly fine (laughs)." Harris started off with a sarcastic and joking tone but then went on and described the situation in a more serious manner.
"To be honest, the response for us was, we got an opener to our season coming up," he explained. "Truth be told, that's honestly where our focus is. We're grown men here. This is not middle school, seventh or eighth grade. As soon as we step on that floor, it's just basketball. Honestly, that's the way it should be. We're here for one thing, and that's to be the best team that we can be, compete, and get better as a group. So, all of the other energy of this and that -- the vibe was what it was. Was it perfect? No. But we're here to do a job, and that's to win basketball games. We'll put our big boy pants on, go on the floor, and do what we do. That's pretty much it."
76ers head coach Doc Rivers made it clear before that Simmons' teammates would welcome him back to the team without hesitation because winning is all that matters at the end of the day. And with Simmons running the offense and terrorizing opposing players on defense, the Sixers win games.
Harris proved his head coach right on Sunday. Although the vibes between Simmons and his teammates weren't necessarily perfect, members of the organization aren't going to dwell on the disappointing situation that unfolded over the last few months. Instead, they'll forgive and forget and look forward to the next phase of the 2021-2022 season.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.