It has been 17 months since the Ben Simmons saga in Philadelphia began with that Game 7 eliminating loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
Now, as he gets ready to return to the court as a Brooklyn Net next month, Simmons finally went into detail about what happened with the 76ers, admitting that the lack of support from Joel Embiid—and especially Doc Rivers—played a major role in his departure from Philadelphia.
JJ Redick: "Did the events of the Hawks series exacerbate the problem?"
"I'm already dealing with a lot mentally in life, as a lot of people do [before the Hawks series in June of 2021]," Simmons said on a new episode of Redick's podcast The Old Man and the Three. "It's like from the people that you're supposed to have the support from, or that comfort from, and I wasn't getting that either [after the Hawks series]. So it was a toll on me and then mentally, it killed me. I was like, f***, no energy for anything. I was in a dark place. And it took me a long time—the first thing for me was really identify, I got to get right. And it's not a physical thing, it's mentally.
"That was tough for me, knowing I didn't really have that support either from teammates or whatever it was at that time."
"No, let's call it like it is," Reddick interrupted. "You know that I love Joel and you know that I love Doc, but they essentially threw you under the bus after Game 7. That's indisputable."
"For sure, for sure," Simmons said.
Redick: "Why did you come back for two days for practice?"
"I was trying to do the right thing," Simmons said.
"I was just not in that place to play, like I wasn't. I just couldn't do it. Getting kicked out of practice that day, I actually just spoke to Doc before practice. I was like, 'Doc, I'm not ready. Mentally I'm not ready, please just understand that.' I tried to let him know prior. He was like, 'I'm gonna put you in anyway.'
"It was like one minute into practice and was like, 'Ben get in!' I'm like, first off, no one is doing that. You are doing this on purpose. It just seems like everyone is just trying to f*** with me now. I'm getting fined for not lifting weights, but physically I'm one of the strongest guys on the f***ing team. So, they're fining me for little things. It was just a build up of—obviously, I didn't handle things the right way, and also the team didn't either and the people that have that power."
Simmons addressed his relationship with the city of Philadelphia, his viral incident in a candy store, the various reports from the media, his excitement for the 2022-23 season, and more.