The 76ers kicked their season off without Ben Simmons last night since he was suspended for opening night after refusing to participate in practice. Well apparently his absence is all this team needed to rip the Pelicans in half. They won 117-98.
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the team went out to dinner before kicking tail. Team chemistry matters, folks.
22 PTS | 6 REB | 5 AST
big fella starting the year off strong. 💪
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) October 21, 2021
“It’s good to just go out and kinda not talk about basketball and talk about life,” Joel Embiid said after yesterday’s blow out win. “That’s also an evolution for me, because I usually, when I used to go on the road, I’d just stay in my room and be on the phone and play video games.”
Head coach Doc Rivers echoed the same sentiment that everything’s great, other than Ben Simmons.
“The players have been normal,” he said. “The only abnormal part is when they have to talk to the media afterwards and they’re asked about Simmons. It’s about playing basketball and growing together, and they’ve done a great job of that.”
This, of course, could always be a classic case of pretending the grass is greener on the other side without Simmons to prove to the world they don’t need him. If the Sixers play well in his absence and make Simmons look like a young prima donna player, the organization saves face and can eventually part ways with him. The three-time All-Star would then be traded as the scapegoat, which he probably deserves after this week’s shenanigans, and then everyone can move on.
GM Daryl Morey, however, will need to find another star to pair with Embiid, no matter how far this sprint of camaraderie carries them. This 76er fan base has their eyes on a title and hardly ever does a team win in the NBA without a duo. Opening night’s success is a step in the right direction for a replacement, though.