Ben Simmons is getting more than his fair share of guff these days. Ever since his playoff woes contributed to the Philadelphia 76ers‘ second-round exit, fans and hoops pundits alike have called his superstar status into question and raked him over the coals for reportedly ghosting the team this offseason. All the while, his name has been a permanent fixture in trade chatter.
Simmons isn’t just hearing the noise in Philly, though. In his native Australia, he caught heat once again for not being a part of the national team’s run at the Tokyo Olympics. And when the Boomers captured the bronze medal, he was again lambasted for not having a big response to the accomplishment.
If you talk to Boomers coach Brian Goorjian about Simmons, though, he has nothing but good things to say about the Sixers star.
Goorjian: Simmons ‘Handled Himself With Class”
During an appearance on The Dead Set Legends on Melbourne’s 105.1 FM Triple M this week, Goorjian was asked about Simmons. The host seemingly leaned into the criticism, asking if the coach had “received so much as a text message” from the three-time NBA All-Star.
Goorjian set the record straight on Simmons in short order.
“Leading into the competition he was tremendous. He sent the whole coaching staff a beautiful bottle of wine, and all the support staff. He sent all the team a gift and gave us his best wishes.” Goorjian revealed. “I know he was in contact — you know, he’s got a few people he’s close to in it…”
He further defended Simmons’ decision to do his own thing this summer, alluding to his recent struggles and praising him for the involvement that he did have with the national team.
“It was circumstances that were difficult for him, but he handled himself with class right through it, and yes he did deliver and stay in contact through this,” he added.
The latest Sixers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Sixers newsletter here!
On Matisse Thybulle’s Impact
Simmons wasn’t the only Sixer who was involved with the Boomers this summer. NBA All-Defensive Second Team pick Matisse Thybulle is a dual citizen of Australia and the US and was a big part of the Boomers’ bronze medal run in Tokyo.
The 24-year-old played in six Olympic contests, averaging 7.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per contest while making 41.7% of his three-point shots. Moreover, his 3.0 steals per game led the Olympic field.
According to Goorjian, Thybulle and former No. 5 overall pick Dante Exum played key roles in the Boomers’ overall performance. In particular, when big man Aron Baynes went down with an injury, the pair allowed him to do some different things on the court.
“A big thing was, leading into the tournament, a lot of names that the Australian public aren’t familiar with that captured and made the team really interesting was Matisse Thyblle and Dante Exum,” he said. “I knew when Aron went down, we had a hand to play.”
“Where we went after his departure was — we went with small ball and threw Matisse in there and threw Dante in there that have length and quickness,” he said. “We went small and ran and kind of played an exciting brand of basketball that they all bit on.”
- Lance Stephenson Auditions for Sixers & Others Teams
- Analyst Makes Grim Prediction About Simmons-Sixers Situation
- Georges Niang Speaks Out on Playing With Joel Embiid
- Stash Pick Petrusev Has Big Goals With Sixers