After nine long months of waiting for former 76er Ben Simmons to return to Philadelphia. The highly anticipated return will happen tonight at the Penn Medicine Court at The Center. This time in an opposing team’s uniform.
Simmons and his new team, the Brooklyn Nets, will take on the 76ers for the first time this season. On March 10, 2022, the former Sixers’ first-overall pick did not suit up against his old club while still rehabbing and unable to play. Philadelphia fans were not happy. Even though he sat in street clothes, the Sixers faithful voiced their displeasure that Simmons was not only sitting out but any longer playing for the home team. Booing him every chance they could. Everyone gets their wish this evening to a certain extent. Seeing both teams at full strength is how many want to gauge the February trade between the Atlantic division opponents – Simmons for James Harden.
But now it’s the Sixers who will be down some key players. Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, and Harden are all out tonight. Ironically enough, all dealing with foot injuries. So, with the arena expecting a full complement of players before so many injuries dampened the excitement – they have to take what they get. And the fans will no doubt let him hear it.
The three-time All-Star appears to be healthy after missing five of the teams 17 games due to a number of injuries. Simmons arguably had his best game on Sunday posting a season-high 22 points, including eight rebounds, five assists and one steal. Looking like the player that was named a two-time All-Defensive performer and a third-team All-NBA standout.
“I had a lot of great moments. We shared a lot of great moments here. A lot of ups and downs, this is where I became a man I feel like,” said Simmons. “So… I’ve always had a lot of respect for Philly in that way and the fanbase. A special fanbase. I got a lot of love for Philly.”
“I’m so excited to play. I’m so excited, I can’t wait,” Simmons continued. “It’s gonna be fun. This is gonna be an opportunity for me. I’ve never been in this situation so I gotta appreciate it and really take it all in.”