The biggest non-playoff game to hit Philadelphia in years started off with a hearty round of boos for Ben Simmons. The former Sixers star came out in warmups and soaked it all in prior to tip-off between the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night.
Simmons stood in the bowels of the Wells Fargo Center for a long time. He shook hands with former coaches and trainers before exiting the tunnel, then took a seat on the Nets’ bench. The Philly faithful promptly serenaded the three-time All-Star with jeers and “F*** Ben Simmons” chants. Interestingly, the NBA’s official Code of Conduct was slapped on every seat in the arena.
That would be the most fun that Philly fans had all evening as the Sixers never got going. The Nets shellacked them 129-100 behind Kevin Durant’s 25 points. Kyrie Irving added 22, with former Sixers guard Seth Curry scoring 24.
At one point, Simmons jumped up and walked across the court to embrace Sixers head coach Doc Rivers. The two men exchanged private words during a picture-perfect moment.
Was it staged? Maybe. It had to be done, though, for the sake of everyone moving on. Rivers called the whole situation “theater” for the media when he met with reporters before the game.
“Obviously there is history there and the fans are going to have something to say, and they have the right to do that,” Rivers said. “But at the end of the day, for me, it’s a game. That’s over with. We’re moving on and we’re going to play basketball tonight.”
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Simmons Mocked for Louis Vuitton Outfit
Simmons was hard to miss in the Nets huddle during timeouts and commercial breaks. He was wearing a bright yellow and black “Intarsia Football Shirt” from luxury designer Louis Vuitton. The baggy shirt cost $1,350 at retail, according to Crossing Broad’s Kevin Kinkead. Needless to day, Simmons stood out like a sore thumb.
Meanwhile, the Sixers pulled out all the stops in terms of hype. Julius “Dr. J” Erving rang the ceremonial bell right before tip-off. Allen Iverson was in attendance, along with Meek Mill, Lil’ Baby, and Jalen Hurts. It was a star-studded cast of characters in the press box, too.
Reggie Miller donned a custom Sixers jersey honoring James Harden and stood up to show it after the 10-time All-Star passed him on the all-time list for 3-pointers made. Harden knocked down the historic triple with 6:58 showing in the first quarter. Miller was calling the broadcast for TNT.
Nets-Sixers: ‘Let’s Make It a Rivalry’
The Nets and Sixers have enjoyed some chippy games in recent years dating back to that epic first-round playoff series in 2019. The Simmons-for-Harden swap only intensified the animosity for two Eastern Conference teams separated by just 98 miles.
But is it an actual rivalry? Rivers wasn’t so sure.
“I don’t know what a rivalry is honestly,” Rivers said. “I think, I just don’t know, I know the Red Sox and Yankees is a rivalry. Duke-North Carolina, I’m positive that’s a rivalry. Philadelphia and Boston from years ago, that’s a rivalry. This? I think, let’s make it one. We have the exact same goals, right? I think Brooklyn wants to win a world championship and so do the Sixers.”