Brooklyn Nets star Ben Simmons made his return to Philadelphia for the first time since being traded to Brooklyn as the Nets took on the Sixers, and Simmons was welcomed with boos from the Sixer fans inside Wells Fargo Center.
Simmons posted 11 points, 11 assists and 7 rebounds as the Nets lost to the Sixers 115-16. 76ers fans chanted “F— Ben Simmons!” throughout the night and booed him whenever he had the ball in his possession.
“I feel like I’m in a good place,” Simmons said after the game, according to ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “I’m happy, I’m doing what I love. So to be out there and have that experience was amazing. Obviously it wasn’t the result we wanted. It’s frustrating to lose a game like that, but I think it’s a good step forward.”
“I thought it was going to be louder.”
Simmons’ teammates thought he dealt with the fury well.
“There’s a lot of emotions,” Nets star Kevin Durant said. “You just want to play well. We know the fans are going to be involved and get excited — not get excited, but just bring their best. But that’s in every arena. Everybody wants to see our team fail. Nobody likes Ben, nobody likes Ky, nobody likes myself, so it might be like that at every road arena.
“So it’s just something we got to deal with. But I thought [Simmons] did a great job of just handling it and playing his game, and we had chances to win, but we just didn’t.”
“It’s a lot of stuff that probably factor into it. But when NBA fans don’t like you, they really got love for you. It’s just misplaced love, I guess. But we get it. At the end of the day, people enjoy watching us play.”
“I think they all just had a lot of great memories with Ben and they don’t like how it ended,” Durant said, adding that Sixers fans “want to voice their frustration.”
“They feel like they’re part of the team, they’re part of the league, so fans want to be heard,” he said. “The last decade in the NBA a lot of fans have been heard with social and just how we highlight the fans nowadays. You got to appreciate both sides. That’s part of the game. I think Ben understands that. We all understand that. The fans really respect us as men, but there’s a part of sports [that includes] heckling, being targeted out there. It’s all a part of it.”