Ben Simmons is ready to make his comeback after being away from the game for over a year.
The former No. 1 overall pick of the 2016 draft had not played in an NBA game since June 20, 2021, when the Philadelphia 76ers lost Game 7 against the Atlanta Hawks, 103-96. Following the tough loss, fans, talking heads in the media, and even his head coach wondered aloud if Simmons was the right point guard for a championship team.
The tension between Simmons and Philly ultimately broke down to a months-long separation and suspension that led to Philly eventually trading Simmons to Brooklyn at the trade deadline. Although Simmons found a new home in Brooklyn, he still loves the City of Brotherly Love.
“Philly is obviously a sports city. My experience playing there was incredible.” Simmons said on an appearance on his former teammate, JJ Redick’s, podcast. “For the most part, it was incredible. I had a great time. The fans were unbelievable. I still have an apartment there, so I do own some real estate in Philadelphia still. So I feel like I’m part of Philly still.”
Simmons averaged 15.9 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game, 7.7 assists, and 1.7 steals per game during his time in Philly. He also made four All-Star teams, earned an All-NBA and two All-Defensive team nods, and led the NBA in steals in 2020. The two-way dynamo also took some time to speak with JJ Redick about his transition to Brooklyn.
“Being in Brooklyn now, it’s completely different,” Simmons said. It’s a different experience for me. I value that time I spent in Philly. I was able to learn and grow in that city. And I got friends for life there. My brother lives there. I got family there. Philly’s great. I think people have a thought that I hate it.”
Simmons has the chance to open a new chapter in his career as he starts to gear up to play alongside Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and the rest of his Brooklyn Nets teammates.