Ben Simmons still wears the stink of his forced departure from the Philadelphia 76ers last season. And, if the history of Philadelphia sports fans is any indication, he’ll wear that stink for the rest of his career and beyond. Put simply, Simmons is persona non grata at any Philadelphia establishment.
But Simmons was traded to the Brooklyn Nets, a New York basketball team featuring the likes of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. And yet, even in his new digs in the Empire State, Simmons can’t quite shake the Sixers’ loyal or his past.
On September 3, Simmons attended the U.S. Open, one of several stars to watch the event. The Open is being held at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Queens, New York. Queens is directly adjacent to Brooklyn, Simmons’ new home, and the two boroughs share a 21-mile border.
So when the jumbotron spotted Simmons in the crowd, he was in friendly territory. Or perhaps, he thought so anyway. When Simmons’ face flashed before the crowd, he was greeted by a hailstorm of boos.
“Everybody gets cheered at U.S. Open
Well, except… Ben Simmons 😂,” tweeted John Clark of NBC Sports.
If this is what Simmons can expect at home, what’s it going to be like when the Nets travel down to Philadelphia this season? The two teams might not play on Halloween, but one can expect plenty of boos for the former Sixer.
Sixers Fans Booed Simmons Back in March
The Sixers got one shot at Simmons after the James Harden trade last season. Unfortunately, Simmons didn’t play, as he was suffering from a back injury. Nonetheless, he still showed his face to the Philly crowd for pre-game shootarounds.
And it went about as one would expect. The crowd was merciless against the former top pick.
And according to Simmons’ former teammate Danny Green, there was no chance Simmons would play that game, regardless of any back pain or injury.
“I’d be highly surprised if [Simmons] even plays in that game,” Green said on an episode of Inside the Green Room in February. “I don’t know where his health is mentally, physically. I know he had other issues, and we all know he does not like to play in Philly. If he does play in that game, I’d be highly surprised. But say that does happen, I see it as being a very hectic, playoff-like atmosphere and environment to where it may be very rough for him.”
Green was spot-on. And Simmons can expect more of the same right out of the gate this season, as the Sixers take on the Nets on Opening Night.
Simmons’ Teammate Sounds Off on Heckling
Simmons’ new teammate Kevin Durant made sure everyone knew ahead of the March 10 game that the Nets were ready for the Sixers crowd.
“I’m sure it’s going to be some personal attacks,” Durant said. “It’s going to be some words that may trigger you personally, but that’s just how fans are. They want to get under our skin, they want to let their voices be heard. I think part of the experience of coming to an NBA game is to heckle.”
Simmons, however, might disagree with his thick-skinned teammate.