The Philadelphia 76ers have played two games to begin the 2021-22 season and the story continues to be focused on somebody who is not there just yet.
Ben Simmons made his return to the Sixers on Oct. 11, but it has been a bumpy ride since then. He has not been mentally engaged in practice, he was tossed from practice on Oct. 19, and he was then suspended for the season opener.
He then met with the team on Friday and he expressed that he has a desire to return to the team, but he is not just ready mentally yet. In fact, he is seeking professional help in order to help him get ready for the grind of returning to the Sixers and playing basketball again.
“It was good,” said Joel Embiid after a loss to the Brooklyn Nets. “Finally, that was the first time any of us heard it. I thought it was good for the group.”
Embiid actually addressed the crowd pregame and he wants the fans to be in support of Simmons because he is still their brother at the end of the day.
“That’s the first step, that’s a start,” Embiid continued on Simmons. “Like I always say, that’s the front office. Hopefully, they figure out what’s best, obviously, for the team because this is a business. We’re trying to find ways to win and for us, we have a big opportunity.”
Whatever Simmons is going through, the team has expressed their support for the 25-year old. No matter what he is dealing with at the moment, they are beginning to understand his side and they support him.
“I think it’s obviously a good start, but as I’ve said, I think that at this time, we have to respect his privacy and his space,” said Tobias Harris. “We have to be there for him throughout what he’s going through in this process. I think that it’s easy to look at something on the surface and come to the assumptions on a lot of things and especially athletes in general in this space, we’re depicted as superhumans and not really supposed to have feelings or go through anything.”
Harris has a good point as these guys are humans first before anything else. They are human before they are basketball players and people do have to understand that.
“I think we have to really understand that he’s a human first and if he’s going through something at that time, we have to respect that and be there for him as a team, an organization, fans, all the way down the line because when he’s in here putting on a show and helping us get wins, everybody’s cheering and praising, but we live in a ‘what have you done for me lately’ type of world and when that’s not the case, it’s easy to turn around,” Harris added. “I think at this time, he needs more support than neglect.”
At the end of the day, the Sixers just want to win basketball games, and having Simmons with the team goes a long way in that regard.
“Like I always say, we are better with him,” Embiid finished. “I wouldn’t mind playing with him. I know my teammates also wouldn’t because, at the end of the day, we’re just trying to win.”
The Sixers will hit the road for two games starting with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday so that will give Simmons his next chance to play after the team meeting.
“It was well-needed for us as a group and I think for him as well to be able to communicate with the guys, it was well-needed,” Harris finished. “It was a step in the right direction for bringing him back and getting him acclimated and along with what we got going here.”
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