I think most Sixers fans recognize that Ben Simmons is mentally fragile. I dont mean that as an insult. But he clearly cares what people think, and say about him. As well as the optics. And in the playoffs he was going through the worst stretch of his pro career. He looked scared of the basket. It all culminated in passing up a dunk with a little over 3 minutes left. But a new report suggests that some in the Sixers organization believe Simmons wanted to be anywhere BUT playing basketball in the Wells Fargo Center that day.
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne released a story on Friday which laid out just how the Sixers, and Simmons got to this point. The story, which is worth reading, goes into the relationship between Simmons and the Sixers and how Simmons never quite gelled with new coach Doc Rivers. Which isnt surprising as it appeared like Simmons was the only player on the Sixers roster to take a step backward (still an All-Star for what its worth.) But possibly the most damning part of the article was when Shelburne laid out what happened BEFORE Game 7.
“Simmons was being held out of the teams shootaround, he told (teammates), due to a possible exposure to a teams masseuse, who returned an inconclusive COVID-19 test,” Shelburne writes. “Several players were questioned about whether they’d seen her that morning. but only Simmons said that he had. ‘He answered the question honestly, without thinking of the implications’ says one source close to Simmons. But according to multiple sources, many within the team questioned whether Simmons had actually seen the masseuse — or was just trying to get out of playing as he battled the basketball version of the yips.”
Did Ben Simmons see an opportunity to get out of playing and actually act on it? We will never know. Only Ben Simmons knows if he tried to get out of that fateful game. But this is a more troubling issue. The fact that “MANY” within the organization thought that Simmons was trying to find a way out of playing. The fact that some actually believe that Simmons DIDNT see the masseuse, and would flat out lie to get out of doing his job. The court of public opinion matters, and the Sixers public opinion was that their 3 time All-Star didn’t want to play because he didn’t want the snowball to get bigger.
This certainly wont help Simmons repair his image with the fan base. If he even cares about that at this point. But can his “teammates” trust him? This is just another wrinkle in the saga of Ben Simmons