Ben Simmons’ relationship with Joel Embiid, at least now, is nonexistent.
Simmons opened up this week about his time with the Philadelphia 76ers ahead of his return to the court this fall with the Brooklyn Nets — which marks his first game action since the end of the 2020-21 season.
“I don’t talk to Jo,” he told ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “We never really spoke.”
Now, their relationship wasn’t always this bad. But given how Simmons’ time with the 76ers ended after his lengthy injuries, mental health break and trade holdout, it’s easy to understand why there’s some animosity between the two.
And since Simmons isn’t in Philadelphia anymore, there’s no real reason for the two to be speaking.
“I don’t think there was really a relationship there,” Simmons said, via ESPN. “Like in terms of a friendship? You can try as hard as you want to try to be close to somebody, be their friend, whatever it is, but everyone is different as people, so for me, it’s never personal. I don’t have any anger or hate towards him. He is who he is and I am who I am.”
Ben Simmons ‘can’t wait’ to play in Philadelphia
Simmons, 26, will make his official debut with the Nets on Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans. He nearly returned last season for them in the playoffs, but opted for back surgery after lingering issues.
It’ll only take about a month before he returns to Philadelphia.
While he’s been on the bench at Wells Fargo Center — Simmons traveled with the Nets there last season, and was met with plenty of abuse from 76ers fans — the game on Nov. 22 will mark his first time playing.
“I can’t wait to go there, yeah,” he said, via ESPN. “But for me, everything’s an experience and a learning situation. So for me I’m able to learn something that I’ve never been through before. I’ve never been traded and played against a team that I got traded from. … We’re people, too. We want to go out there and prove everyone wrong.”
As for the chants and backlash he faced last time, Simmons insisted he wasn’t bothered. Since he wasn’t playing, and he doesn’t “know them,” he didn’t take it personally.
“They don’t know me. They know the basketball side of me, but that’s not who I am as a person,” Simmons said, via ESPN. “And that’s the competitive nature of being in a hostile place like Philadelphia, you know? I was drafted there, it ended in a way where not everyone was happy about it, but that’s basketball, right? And it’s Philly [chuckles]. Like I don’t know if that’s happening in Indiana or anything like that. That’s Philly. That’s Philly for you.”
Simmons will play a key role for the Nets this season alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. If they’re going to avenge last season’s disappointing first-round playoff loss, Simmons is going to have to play well with those two.
So far he said he’s fitting right in.
“I got support from all these guys, the coaching staff, the organization, so it’s up to me to go out there to do my job now and work,” he said, via ESPN.
“It feels like home. It feels normal to be here and come to work.”