by Julian Spivey
The Philadelphia 76ers defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 117-97 on its opening night of the NBA season on Wednesday, Oct. 20 despite the in-house suspension of All-Star guard Ben Simmons, who’s turned into the biggest man-baby in the history of the National Baseball Association.
A dramatic saga that’s been going on between Simmons and the 76ers since the end of the 2020-21 season when he demanded to be traded by the team seemed to come to a head on Tuesday, Oct. 19 when Simmons was kicked out of practice by 76ers head coach Doc Rivers after the three-time All-Star, considered one of the best two-way players in the league, refused to practice.
During the practice session when Rivers asked Simmons to join a defensive drill the guard refused to do so and then when Rivers asked again, again Simmons refused. Rivers then told Simmons he should go home, and Simmons dropped the basketball in his hand and left. That’s right, Simmons threw the same type of tantrum you’d expect from children not getting their way.
Shortly after this incident in practice the team suspended Simmons for Wednesday’s opening game and there’s no telling if he will ever suit up again for the 76ers. Simmons was previously fined $1.4 million for failing to show up for four preseason games and numerous practices, workouts and meetings, according to ESPN. He missed roughly another $227,000 for the opening night suspension.
Rivers told the media after he dismissed Simmons from the team’s practice: “I thought he was a distraction today. I didn’t think he wanted to do what everyone else was doing.”
It’s clear that Simmons’ tantrum is a tactic to force the hand of the 76ers to trade him – and give him what he wants. But the 76ers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey should stand his ground and refuse to deal Simmons. Simmons needs to be taught a lesson by the 76ers that you can’t go around acting like a man-baby and expect to have your way. In these situations, the players almost always get their way and I think it’s time for a franchise to put its foot down. The 76ers should continue to suspend Simmons and withhold his pay – if such a thing is allowed by the NBA Players’ Association. This tactic might keep the circus surrounding the team alive, but if he’s simply sent home and treated like he doesn’t exist maybe it won’t be such a distraction for the team. The 76ers certainly didn’t seem to miss him in uniform on Wednesday night.
The 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid, the actual best player on the team, told the media after Simmons’ practice tantrum: “At the end of the day, our job is not to babysit somebody.”
It’s quite surprising to me that Simmons teammates haven’t had a physical “come to Jesus” with him, but they simply don’t seem to want to have anything to do with him period.
The NBA is no stranger now to selfish superstars with the Brooklyn Nets going through something somewhat similar with seven-time All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving being unable to play in home games because he won’t get the Covid-19 vaccine and the city mandates it and is being withheld from road games because the team didn’t want the distraction. He, however, will be paid for the missed road games since it’s the team’s decision.
At least Irving feels like he’s standing for something, even as misguided and wrongheaded as it is. Simmons is just behaving like a toddler and should be treated as such by his organization. Go sit in the corner Baby Ben until you’re ready to act your age.