Ben Simmons has a back injury and won’t take the court on Thursday night in his much-ballyhooed return to Philadelphia. That was expected. Here’s the twist: Simmons is planning to make the road trip and sit on the Brooklyn Nets bench, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
“Simmons is working toward making his debut for the Nets as he ramps up after dealing with back soreness,” Charania said, “and I’m told there is optimism about a return to action later this month.”
The three-time All-Star left the Sixers on awkward terms stemming from his dismal play in last year’s playoffs. Simmon’s signature moment coming when he passed up a wide-open dunk in Game 7 against Atlanta. From there, things spiraled out of control as the Aussie asked for a trade while citing mental health issues. He felt disrespected by Joel Embiid and Doc Rivers.
Simmons was eventually sent packing to the Nets in exchange for James Harden. March 10 will mark his first trip to Wells Fargo Center since the breakup. He’ll sit on the bench while the eyes of the basketball world focus on Philly and the city’s passionate fan base.
Boos should be raining down, but what else? How will the TV cameras handle the broadcast? Will a random knucklehead throw something at Simmons? Or, would Sixers fans flip the script and cheer wildly for their old starting point guard? Everything’s on the table. Especially with the national media’s disdain for Philly.
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Sixers Twitter Reacts to Newest Development
It had been widely assumed that Simmons would skip the Sixers-Nets game. He wouldn’t play and surely he wouldn’t show his face inside Wells Fargo Center. Well, it seems as if Simmons has had a change of heart. That, or agent Rich Paul got in his ear about pulling off the ultimate public relations power move.
Simmons will look like the sad-sack victim sitting on the bench in Philly as all those jeers bellow down from the rafters. It’s kind of a genius strategy. The memes were already flooding Twitter on Monday. Simmons is heading into a hornet’s nest and it could play out in his favor.
Smitty of Barstool Sports isn’t buying Simmons actually showing up. He wrote: “Ben Simmons not playing but will be on the bench vs. the Sixers on March 10th? Yeah…not happening. Zero chance Ben Simmons ever steps foot in Philly again. Zilch. None. Sorry, Shams.”
Philly Voice’s Shamus Clancy advocated for putting together a video clip of Simmons passing up that playoff dunk versus Atlanta, then added: “Maybe add in some video of him getting intentionally fouled by the Wizards and proceeding to shoot an embarrassing 35.7 percent from the charity stripe.”
Sixers Host Bulls, Final Injury Report
The Sixers host the Chicago Bulls tonight (March 7) in a battle between two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia (39-24) is holding down the No. 2 seed, while Chicago (39-25) sits at No. 4. The Bulls ruled three players out for Monday night: Lonzo Ball (knee), Patrick Williams (wrist), Alex Caruso (wrist). And Bulls center Nikola Vucevic – a first round pick of the Sixers in 2011 – is listed questionable with a sore hamstring on the latest injury report.
The Sixers enter this one relatively healthy with Paul Millsap ruled out due to an undisclosed injury. DeAndre Jordan is expected to make his Philly debut after joining the team on Saturday.