Ben Simmons on Philadelphia: ‘I’ll always have love for Philly’

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Ben Simmons
Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid, left, tries to get past Brooklyn Nets’ Ben Simmons during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Of all the stories one would expect, given the recent events involving the Philadelphia 76ers, this may not have been one of them.

As the ongoing drama surrounding James Harden’s trade demand continues to relentlessly push itself to the top of the Sixers’ news cycle, a recent interview between Sr. NBA writer Marc J. Spears and former Sixer Ben Simmons has stolen the show.

Ben Simmons
Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons (10) closes his eyes during the national anthem before an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/José Luis Villegas)

In a detailed interview that covered everything from his ongoing recovery to hopes of one day playing for the Australian National team to fishing, the two also discussed Simmons’ past in Philadelphia. Spears asked Simmons how he reflects on his time spent in Philadelphia with the Sixers, to which the former first-overall pick replied:

“I had a lot of fun there. It was time for me to go. When I did leave, it was good timing. Obviously, the injury and everything that was going on didn’t help. But I think it gave me a chance to really appreciate it. I’ll always have love for Philly. People always ask me like, ‘If you were to get traded again where you want it to be?’ I always say, ‘Just Philly. Philly is a second home to me.’ And in time, you learn and grow as people. I don’t really have anything bad to say about Philly. It was a crazy situation at the end, but it is what it is.”

Does Ben Simmons really look back fondly on Philly?

Ben Simmons
PHILADELPHIA, PA – MAY 05: Philadelphia 76ers Guard Ben Simmons (25) looks toward the net during warmups before the Eastern Conference Semifinal Game between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers on May 05, 2018 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

It certainly wasn’t the answer many expected to hear — especially for those in Philadelphia. Ben Simmons, of all people, and while the James Harden drama is at its peak, talking so openly and fondly about his time in the city is admittedly surprising, but when one considers that every high in his career also took place in the City of Brotherly Love, it’s not hard to see how he could reminisce at times.

Yes, it was mired in controversy, but Simmons was a decorated up-and-coming player during his years in Philadelphia. Regardless of the lows that he experienced in the city, he has not been able to enjoy anything close to those highs as well. So, does Ben Simmons really look back fondly on Philly? It certainly seems so.

Time does not heal all wounds but provides perspective

Ben Simmons
NEW ORLEANS, LA – APR 09: Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) dribbles against New Orleans Pelicans in the first half during a NBA game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Philadelphia 76ers at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA on Apr 09, 2021. (Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire)

One can argue until they turn blue in the face about the legitimacy of this statement; for those who want to assume it’s posturing, I won’t argue. The one thing I will say however is that Simmons certainly has had time, as he himself pointed out. Time away from Philadelphia. Time to reflect and to gain perspective.

It’s a funny thing time; what one can discover, whether of the world or themselves. Has the time Simmons has spent away made his heart grow fond of days gone by? Or have his continued struggles given him an appreciation for the past success he enjoyed in the city? Whatever the case, the truth is that the case of Ben Simmons should never have developed nor ended as it did. While the damage is done and the situation appears as though it may not be reversible, it is regrettable, and it is okay to admit that.