The 76ers operate like Ben Simmons is part of the team – at least for now.
The Sixers released a new introductory video ahead of Friday’s home opener against the Brooklyn Nets that featured Simmons, unlike the preseason video that left him out. Unsurprisingly, there were a few boos when it was shown on the jumbotron.
Then, addressing the pre-game crowd, Joel Embiid said: “I urge you to continue supporting us and our teammate Ben as he is still our brother.”
This public show of support in the Sixers ‘114-109 loss to the Nets came after Doc Rivers called Simmons’ morning meeting with the team a productive and “start.”
The disgruntled playmaker spoke to Rivers, Embiid and the rest of his teammates ahead of Friday’s shootout. During that reunion, Simmons told the Sixers he was mentally not ready to play and needed time.
READ MORE: Ben Simmons Tells Sixers He Mentally Not Ready To Play Yet
On Thursday, the three-time All-Star complained of back tightness before scheduled individual training and left the training facility without participating in the exercises. Simmons was also suspended from his participation in Wednesday’s season opener for refusing to participate in Tuesday’s practice.
That’s why Rivers saw Friday morning’s meeting as a good sign.
“The only way to start is to start,” Rivers said. “Today was a start.”
Simmons worked with the Sixers’ medical team in Friday’s shootout, but did not play against the Nets. The 25-year-old will continue to be evaluated by the Sixers, with next steps determined by medical professionals.
When asked if Simmons intends to stay with the team in the future, a league source said it depends on the Sixers. Rivers said he wanted him around.
“He’s part of the team,” said the coach. “I don’t know how many times I can say that. We have certain rules. Obviously the other day it didn’t happen. But today was a good day.
“And I think… most people, we look at the problems rather than the possibilities. I think if we focus on the possibilities in life in general, you have a good chance of going to a good place. “
READ MORE: Ben Simmons, the Sixers and a look back at the infamous Philly feuds
But it’s still not certain whether Simmons will play another game for the Sixers.
It’s no secret that Simmons asked to be traded. And before Friday, Simmons and the Sixers have been heading for a messy divorce since the end of last season.
The Sixers were unwilling to trade Simmons, saying he can’t be moved unless they get equal value in return. And during a visit Thursday to Mike Missanelli’s show On 97.5 The Fanatic, Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey said this situation could take four years to resolve if they don’t get the asking price. Simmons is four years old and $ 146.6 million on his contract.
Sources said Simmons told Sixers he was mentally exhausted when asked why he didn’t want to return to the team.
“So Kevin Love, anyone can tell you about their mental exhaustion, and you pay attention,” the source said. “But in this case, you don’t care because he has four years left on his contract.”
However, a source on the team refuted this. The source said that the first time Simmons communicated his mental exhaustion was this week. On Friday, the Sixers communicated to Simmons and his representation that he would have access to any resources he could need to handle this situation.
Friday morning’s meeting yielded positive results for the Sixers. Tobias Harris expressed his support for Simmons on Twitter. And Embiid said all of the Sixers loved Simmons, which was different from the center’s comments on Simmons on Tuesday. At the time, Embiid said, “At this point, I don’t care about this man, honestly.”
So the tide seems to be turning for the Sixers after their final push to reach Simmons.
Embiid, at least, thinks things can move in the right direction.
“As I always say, it’s the front office,” he said of Simmons’ future with the team. “I hope they find what is obviously best for the team, because this is a business. We are trying to find ways to win.
“We have a great opportunity and as I always say we are better with him. So I wouldn’t mind playing with him. I know my teammates wouldn’t either, because at the end of the day we’re just trying to win. “
But Harris wants people to know it’s more important than just winning.
He knows it’s easy to look at things on the surface and make assumptions. He also knows that athletes, in some cases, are portrayed as superhumans, who are not meant to have personal feelings or struggles.
“We have to understand that he’s a human first,” Harris said.
As a result, he believes the Sixers players, the organization and the fans need to respect that and be there for him. That’s because people, as Harris noted, encourage Simmons when he puts on a show at the Wells Fargo Center.
But in this world what have you been doing to me lately, Simmons was vilified in Philly.
“Right now he needs more support than neglect,” Harris said.
Harris relayed this message to the media after Friday night’s opener. There have been a lot of less than flattering reports about Simmons lately. Harris said the media weren’t all about clickbait.
“Understand that we are a team,” he said. “The Philadelphia 76ers, the media. We are a team. We are winning matches. It helps your job. It makes your job easier. So we must also see this as a collective effort. “
The job of the media is not to make Simmons look good or bad, but to objectively report the news. No one knows how long a Sixer will be left, but there have been no complaints from the team regarding Friday’s meeting.
“Once again, today has been a productive day,” said Rivers. “It was a productive day. I’m glad it happened.