Philadelphia fans didn’t even wait for Ben Simmons to arrive at the game to start booing him.
Bloodthirsty 76ers supporters waited outside the hotel the Brooklyn Nets’ were staying at ahead of today’s game in Philly and pounced on the Australian when he walked out to board the team bus.
Simmons leaving Four Seasons this morning. pic.twitter.com/w90nHQFYI4
— Crossing Broad (@CrossingBroad) March 10, 2022
“Thanks for James,” one yelled, after Simmons was traded to the Nets for James Harden a month ago.
Another fan yelled at Simmons as he went and signed autographs.
“Why the grievance? Why spit in the face of Sixers fans? Why the grievance? Why the grievance Ben?” he said. “We did nothing but support you for five years, you know that.”
The reception didn’t get any kinder when Simmons entered the stadium, even if he was only going to sit on the bench rather than suit up for his new team.
The crowd mocked him by cheering when, in a pre-game shootaround, Simmons went up for a dunk. The equivalent of the Bronx cheer was because Simmons infamously passed on an open dunk under the rim during last season’s disastrous playoffs loss to Atlanta.
The Athletic’s Brooklyn Nets beat writer, Alex Schiffer, said on Twitter: “I did not see Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid acknowledge each other when they were on the court together for pregame warm-ups.”
There was no love lost between Embiid and Simmons during the Aussie’s stand-off with Philadelphia. The Cameroonian All-Star was happy to speak his mind and didn’t paint his former teammate in a positive light during the saga.
Simmons won’t be in uniform as his new team visits his old team but even just sitting on the bench, he knows the reception he’s going to get.
The Nets say he’s a big boy who doesn’t need his hands held through the boos and jeers.
Good thing, because they don’t intend to hold them.
“He’s a big boy, he’ll be fine and he’s excited to join our team,” coach Steve Nash said. “He wants to be there on the bench with his teammates.”
Simmons requested a trade from Philadelphia after last season, citing mental health issues. After getting dealt last month, he’s still ramping up and yet to practice with the Nets, but has the enduring hatred from the City of Brotherly Love.