Ben Simmons Showered With Boos During Brooklyn Nets Against Philadelphia 76ers Game
Despite all the boos he endured during an emotional return to Philadelphia, Simmons and his Brooklyn Nets teammates made certain they got the last laugh with a 129-100 win over the 76ers on Thursday night.
Simmons, who was traded to Brooklyn along with Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and two future first-round picks for Harden and Millsap at last month's trade deadline, walked back on the court as the Sixers were introduced just before tipoff. Once the introductions were done and the lights came back on, fans realized Simmons was on the Nets' bench and booed loudly once again
Simmons' first appearance in Philadelphia after requesting a trade over the summer was met with boos from a fan base that had waited over nine months to express its frustration with him following his rough play during a playoff exit to the Atlanta Hawks last May in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
"It was a good environment to start," Nets star Kevin Durant said. "It didn't finish that way."
Durant acknowledged after the game that the Nets were playing for Simmons because he couldn't be out there playing with them.
"I think all of us were," Durant said. "We look at Ben as our brother, so we knew that this was a hostile environment and we knew that he didn't have the opportunity to play and we wanted to come out there and have [the fans] focus on the court, more so than always focusing on him. So they focused on the court tonight, and it's hard for you to chant at Ben Simmons when you're losing by that much."
Irving added that the emotional aspect of the night gave the Nets an extra motivation.
"I think playing for Ben and the night meaning something to Ben and not only Ben, but 'Dre, Seth," Irving said. "When you get traded in this league, it's not easy to deal with. And you pick up your stuff that you've made a home out of; you're in one city and then you have to transfer to another city, it's not always easy, so we've tried to welcome him in with open arms.
"So when we played tonight, we definitely felt like Ben was on our heart. You could see it, he was wearing it, and we just wanted to go out there and play for him and play well. ... If you come at Ben, you come at us. You come at anyone else on our team, you come at all of us, and that's the mentality."
While listening to "F--- Ben Simmons!" chants from the crowd, Ben sat next to Patty Mills for much of the night while supporting his teammates. There was extra security around the Nets' bench, with one extra guard stationed halfway up each section to make sure fans closer to Simmons didn't get unruly.