Crowd mocks Ben Simmons despite absence in NBA opener

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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Pelicans fans chanted 'where's Ben Simmons?' at the Philadelphia 76ers when they faced off in their NBA season opener. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Pelicans fans chanted 'where's Ben Simmons?' at the Philadelphia 76ers when they faced off in their NBA season opener. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Ben Simmons wasn't in town but that didn't stop New Orleans Pelicans fans from taunting the Philadelphia 76ers over his turbulent off-season.

The 76ers started their NBA campaign on the road against the Pelicans, with the game serenaded by chants of 'where's Ben Simmons?' coming from the stands.

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The chant wasn't without a degree of irony, with New Orleans' own reportedly disgruntled No.1 pick Zion Williamson sidelined with a foot injury.

Nor did the chants do much to stop the 76ers, who picked up a 117-97 win on the road to get their regular season off to a good start.

The Sixers dominated the fourth quarter to end Pelicans rookie coach Willie Green's debut on a sour note.

New Orleans was as close as six points when Brandon Ingram's turnaround fade made it 83-77 with 9:27 left.

Bench player Furkan Korkmaz responded with an onslaught from deep, hitting three 3s in less than a minute to put the Sixers up 92-79.

That was the start of a 20-2 Sixers run that included another triple by Korkmaz, sending fans to the exits ahead of an anticlimactic final six minutes.

Pelicans fans weren't the only ones giving it to Simmons on what should have been his first game of the season, with fans at the Philadelphia Flyers' home game also breaking out into anti-Simmons chants.

Tobias Harris and Tyrse Maxey each scored 20 points for Philadelphia, while Andre Drummond grabbed 17 rebounds and blocked two shots.

The 76ers will play their home opener later this week against Brooklyn, with Simmons likely available to play despite having been suspended for the game in New Orleans earlier this week.

Philadelphia 76ers begin season amid Ben Simmons suspension cloud

Simmons was suspended from the 76ers' season opener against New Orleans after was sent home from practice for "conduct detrimental to the team".

It was the latest bombshell development in a messy situation which has turned increasingly ugly as the former No.1 draft picks attempts to force a trade away from Philadelphia.

Sixers coach Doc Rivers said the usual excitement of a season-opener had been blunted because of the Simmons saga.

Ben Simmons' attempts to force a trade from the Philadelphia 76ers have backfired in spectacular fashion. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Ben Simmons' attempts to force a trade from the Philadelphia 76ers have backfired in spectacular fashion. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

"It's a predicament that we're in and that part is no fun. It really isn't," Rivers told reporters before the 76ers' game against the Pelicans.

"We get to play right now and Ben is not. I want Ben to be playing. That's his job."

Simmons still has four years and $A196m left on his max contract, but has become public enemy No.1 in Philadelphia.

He was criticised by Rivers and fellow 76ers star Joel Embiid in the immediate aftermath of Philadelphia's play-offs exit last season.

Rivers has been diplomatic ever since, but Embiid has continued to publicly voice his frustration about Simmons, with the All-Star centre saying earlier this week he did not want to be a "babysitter".

He has not talked publicly since his off-season trade request - his early exit from practice meant he skipped Tuesday's scheduled media availability - and there's no telling if he'll return to the Sixers.

With AAP

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