Let's get what I view as the most likely possibility out of the way before diving into the main point of this article. There's a very, very real chance that Ben Simmons finds his way out of Philly sooner rather than later, is booed mercilessly by fans whenever he returns to Philly and, when it's all said and done, becomes one of the most hated athletes in the city. That is a possibility. Again, in my mind, it's the most likely possibility. And it's not a very good one for Simmons, though it means that he got his apparent wish of getting out of Philly.
So now that that's out of the way, let's put another scenario out there: Simmons somehow finds a way to repair his reputation in the eyes of 76ers fans — which, by all accounts, is not the easiest fan base to work with — and becomes a respected member of the organization once again. Improbable? I'd say so. Impossible? Not according to former Sixers guard Eric Snow.
Snow joined fellow former NBA player Etan Thomas — who recently penned a lengthy open letter to Simmons — and laid out the steps it will take for Simmons to ingratiate himself with the Philly Phaithful once again.
"I think it's possible. But he would have to, 1) have some form of a statement, whatever that may be, saying that he wants to be there," Snow said on "The Rematch" alongside Thomas. "Then 2) I think you just compete, play hard. They'll see the passion and that it's authentic. And then just play well. Improve on whatever he feels like, or they feel like, he needs to improve on, and play well.
"...If those four things happen, yeah, I think it can be [salvageable], but I don't think you can go without one of those four things happening. It think all four of them have to happen. He has to have some form of commitment, he has to have that effort every night — that passion and enthusiasm — have to play well, and they have to win! So if that happens, I think that all bygones can be forgotten and the team has to do their part."
Okay... easy! Right? Not so, says Snow, who doesn't really think that it's likely to expect all four of those factors to come to fruition. After all, there's no tougher crowd to play in front of, and if he shows even the slightest hint of lacking commitment — something that seems inevitable, seeing as the reports were that he never wanted to play in a 76ers uniform again — the other steps will be hard to fulfill.
If he does come back and somehow regain the respect of Philadelphians across the city, Snow doesn't think he'll have to change his playing style all that much. However, improvement is one of those key four steps, and Snow knows exactly what aspect of his game needs it the most.
"I've been one to say that I don't think he needs to shoot threes, I firmly believe that. My belief has always been he just had to make free throws," Snow explained. "The one thing I knew about shooting is missing threes will make you drive to the basket; missing free throws will make you not want the ball. So I think that he has to be able to improve on that and I don't think that he ever needs to be a three-point shooter — that's just my opinion — if he's making free throws."
A good free-throw-shooting Simmons who apologizes to the fans, commits to the 76ers with a formal statement and works with undying effort in and out of games? I hope I'm wrong and Cold Takes Exposed can come for me, but I just don't see that happening.