Did Ben Simmons make up an excuse to try getting out of Game 7?
We all know how horrible Ben Simmons was offensively during the Eastern Conference semifinals, and it seemed clear that some of the struggles were mental. The Philadelphia 76ers star likely recognized that. Apparently there were some questions about whether he even tried to get out of playing in Game 7.
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne published a piece on Friday about the drama-filled offseason with Simmons in Philadelphia. In her story, Shelburne revealed that there was a brief period where Simmons believed the 76ers were not going to allow him to play in Game 7 against the Atlanta Hawks due to a possible COVID-19 exposure — one that was self-reported by Simmons.
On the morning of June 20, which was the day of Game 7, Simmons reportedly told his brother Sean Tribe that he was being held out of shootaround due to possibly being exposed to COVID-19 after a team masseuse returned an inconclusive test. Simmons told Tribe that the Sixers were “not letting me play.”
Several players were asked if they had been around the masseuse, and only Simmons said that he had. One source close to Simmons said that the former first overall pick was simply being honest “without thinking of the implications.”
According to Shelburne, there was a feeling among members of the team that Simmons was trying to get out of Game 7 because he had been playing so poorly. Some questioned if he had actually even seen the masseuse.
Simmons had 8 points on 2-of-4 shooting in Philly’s Game 5 loss to the Hawks. He converted just 4-of-14 free throws. He then scored just 6 points on 2-of-6 shooting in Game 6, but the Sixers managed to force Game 7 with a win. There’s no debating Simmons was ice cold heading into the deciding game. He scored 5 points on 2-of-4 shooting in the 103-96 loss in Game 7.
If coaches, players or executives with the Sixers really thought Simmons was trying to duck out of Game 7, that shows you what they think of his competitive spirit.
Photo: Jan 30, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) talks to fans before a game against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports