Brooklyn Nets’ Ben Simmons is looking at a “homecoming” game Tuesday when he returns to Philadelphia to take on the team that drafted him No. 1 in 2016, only to depart in 2022 in rotten fashion.
After missing the 2021 season because of a back injury, with some personal issues thrown in the mix, Philadelphia reluctantly said goodbye to its star in Simmons by trading him to Brooklyn. Simmons expects no love lost once Philly fans at Wells Fargo Center reunite with their former All-Star.
“I’m ready to play,” Simmons said after Sunday’s win against the Memphis Grizzlies, addressing the anticipated matchup against the Sixers.
Simmons Is Ready To Elevate The Nets
Simmons played naive to any bad blood heading into Tuesday, knowing the atmosphere may be tense.
“Something going on?” Simmons asked reporters, which they appreciated with hearty laughter.
“I know what’s coming,” Simmons added. “That’s part of the game. Philly fans, one thing about Philly fans is they are incredible. They are die-hard Philly and they are everything Philly, whatever it is. I respect that about the city.
If Simmons weren’t coming off a rebound game against the Grizzlies — 22 points (11-of-13 shooting), eight rebounds and five assists — the narrative would likely be that the 26-year-old is set to have his lunch eaten by his former team.
But after Sunday and a string of double-digit performances, it’s apparent that Ben is getting his mind set on not just returning to his All-Star level play, but priming himself to take on the challenge of beating Eastern Conference postseason contenders like the 76ers.
Simmons addressed the fervor waiting for him in Philadelphia.
“It’s a sports town. I was talking to I think Yuta (Watanabe) before the game about what it’s like to play in Philly, and it’s an incredible opportunity to put on whatever jersey it is.”
Since his interview with The Athletic, tackling rumors that the Nets locker room has grown weary with his unreliable health and production, the 6-foot-10 Simmons has owned up to the pressure of playing as the third-best option on the playoff-hopeful Nets.
“That’s Philly, and it’s a unique experience,” Simmons added in the media session. He said that he’s still got plenty of love for the city.
“So regardless of the situation, whatever happened, happened. But I got a lot of love for that city still, so I look forward to going down there and playing.”