An Open Letter to Benjamin David Simmons
Dear Ben Simmons,
There isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said. You aren’t on the 76ers anymore, yet you are talked about constantly in Sixers circles. When you were first drafted to Philadelphia, we all supported you. We raised our Hinkie flags and celebrated you like you were the missing piece that Hinkie was exiled for. Watching you dominate in Summer League left us all in awe and helped us show support once you started on your road to recovery, missing that first year, allowing hype and anticipation to grow.
During your rookie season, your first healthy season, there were droves upon droves of fans going to Twitter war for you. Defending your Rookie of the Year candidacy and eventual victory over the offensive powerhouse that is Donovan Mitchell. We fought for your recognition and celebrated your victory. We cheered you on despite the lack of three-point or midrange shots under the thought that you would develop that over time. After achieving more success than we had had in recent years, no one cared when we lost in the second round to the Celtics. We were just happy that the future was so bright with you and Joel despite some questions regarding fit.
The Sixers spent draft capital and salary cap room on surrounding you and Joel with talent, showing that they were committed to you and Joel. Talks of you and Joel reuniting the Sixers with the Larry O’Brien trophy flooded the streets of Philly. LeBron James even considered coming to Philadelphia because of you and Joel — although he eventually chose the Los Angeles Lakers. The future was incredibly bright.
As time went on, we watched you blossom into an All-Star and an All-NBA talent. We watched as you scored a career-high 42 points on the eventual Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. We shouted from the rooftops that you got robbed in the DPOY race that year as the Sixers claimed the first seed. We supported you through it all, and while there were always people who wanted to trade you, there were just as many people — if not more — who wished for you to stay in Philadelphia for the rest of your career.
Then, as the Hawks series happened and the tide began to change. You turned your back on us. You took our (valid) criticism personally and responded incorrectly. Rather than using the criticism and the failures as fuel to get better, you shut everyone out in your LA mansion. You refused to talk to Joel or to Doc. You turned your back on the players, on the coaches, and the fans, sulking while Philadelphia looked for a trade offer. When Philly couldn’t find a trade, you took it upon yourself to facilitate one and demanded the trade, sitting out the entire season with claims of injury and poor mental health. Your mental health is important — significantly more important than basketball in fact — and I don’t think any less of you for dealing with it. However, with that being said, the way you and your representation approached this situation was poor, to say the very least.
The whole city of Philadelphia was behind you. All of the 76ers fans you claimed were the problem supported you. People say Philly fans are hard to please, but in reality, we’re just honest. When you do good things, we support you. Refuse to work on your game, and you’ll be publicly called out. Refuse to show up for your team, refuse to even play on the same court as the guys who would go and battle with you every night for years, and you’ll be the most hated Philadelphia athlete ever.
Ben Simmons, you were supposed to be the final piece of The Process. In a way, you still might be. I wish you good luck in Brooklyn. Thank you Ben Simmons for your time in Philadelphia, thank you for the memories, and thank you for James Harden.