On Monday afternoon, Philadelphia 76er Ben Simmons was booted out of practice by head coach Doc Rivers because he refused to participate in defensive drills. Shortly after he was removed from practice, news broke that the team had suspended him. It is a sign of a relationship that has grown so toxic, it needs to end quickly for everyone involved.
The sad thing is, this latest turn in the saga doesn’t even surprise me.
Simmons’ toxic relationship with his coach and the front office has been headline news in the NBA for months now, as he had refused to report to training camp and was adamant about never playing for the Sixers again — that is until he texed his GM to get access to the facility for a test. And the reality is that the 76ers created this mess with their public criticism of their point guard; which included this “gem” from Rivers.
“I don’t know the answer to that,” he told reporters when asked if Simmons could be the point guard of a championship team.SCOTT POLACEK – Bleacher report
While Rivers was understandably frustrated by his All Star point guard’s decision to pass up on a dunk in game seven of their second-round playoff series loss, that is not an answer you give to the press under any circumstances. Simmons boss just came out had come out and publicly cast doubt on his ability to do his job at a high level in arguably the toughest market in country — remember, Eagles fans literally throw snowballs at Santa as they booed him. That is not a responsible, or respectful, way for any manager or coach to handle performance issues; and it’s hard for me to blame Simmons for wanting out.
Note, Joel Embiid also criticized the decision to pass up the dunk in the press and that likely contributed to his desire to get the fuck out of town.
There was no movement from the front office, or Rivers, to smooth things over for until a few weeks had passed. No one in the front office stood up for Sixers former No. 1 pick; no one that attempted to defend him in the press after his confidence had clearly been shaken throughout the series as he struggled at the free throw line. This entire situation could have been avoided if someone up the chain from Rivers had said “wait a minute.” It clearly looked like the franchise planned to leave him out to dry, at least publicly, and it’s hard to blame Simmons for wanting out that situation.
And it doesn’t help that his teammates didn’t step up to defend him either; everyone slumps at some point because they’ve suddenly started to struggle in a part of their job. A fact that his teammates, particularly Embiid forgot or decided to ignore after the game.
Which has led us to the situation today, where Simmons showed up to work despite his desire not to be in Philly anymore and was immediately removed because he didn’t want to put in the effort for a coach and teammates that publicly turned on him after game seven. During his post practice press conference Embiid summed up how toxic the overall environment in the locker room had become for Simmons.
The way that Simmons’ coach and teammates handled a bad decision has been an absolute embarrassment for the franchise — whether the front office gets that, or not. At this point, ending everyone’s suffering in this drama is the best way forward…even if the Sixers don’t get the value they want in a trade.
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