NBA fans will never forget Ben Simmons passing up a dunk during Game 7 of the 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals. The former Philadelphia 76ers guard passed the ball instead of dunking over Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young, which resulted in a blown play.
The 76ers lost the game and series, and the fallout was swift. Head coach Doc Rivers questioned Simmons' ability in the postgame press conference, and team president Daryl Morey reportedly tried to trade the 6'10" guard after the season.
Of course, the situation went from bad to worse. Simmons never played for the 76ers again. Eventually, the 3x NBA All-Star was traded to the Brooklyn Nets on February 10, 2022. Simmons still has not played a game since the 2021 NBA Playoffs, so the enduring image in fans' minds is the botched play.
Former 76ers guard JJ Redick recently interviewed his former teammate on his podcast The Old Man & the Three. Fans can watch the entire interview here. It was no surprise that Redick asked Simmons to give his side of the story.
Simmons provided the following explanation.
"In the moment, I just spun, and I'm assuming Trae is going to come over quicker. So I'm thinking he's going to come full-blown, and I see Matisse (Thybulle) going - You know, Matisse is athletic, can get up. So, I'm thinking okay, quick pass. He's got to flush it, not knowing how much space there was. It happened so quick that you just make a read.
And in the playoffs, you need to make the right decisions majority of the time. And for that moment, I mean, bro, it happened, and I was like, 'Ok. **** now we got to make another play. That's how I'm thinking. Then I didn't realize how, you know, everyone was posting, and I'm like, it was that big?"
Simmons concluded by saying he should have dunked the ball and was okay with how everything played out. Earlier this summer, Redick interviewed Young and asked him about the play.
The Hawks point guard said, "I think he kind of knew I was going to foul, and that's why he passed it up. You know, in these moments, when you spin, it's a quick moment. He may not know it was me. He sees a blue jersey right behind me, which he can just drop off and maybe get a layup."
Young continued, "I mean, it's a bang-bang play, and it sucks for him. I understand that's a tough play because he's a good player. I hate how people talk about how bad of a player he is. That's what I'm saying about recency bias because I think he's a really good player."
Now that fans have heard everyone's side of the story, it will hopefully offer some closure on the sore subject. But that does not mean Philly fans will forgive Simmons anytime soon. Stay locked into AllHawks.com for all of your Atlanta Hawks news.
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