'Dark times': Ben Simmons breaks silence after brutal NBA trade saga

·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
Ben Simmons held his first meeting with reporters after being traded to Brooklyn, opening up about his standoff with the Philadelphia 76ers. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Ben Simmons held his first meeting with reporters after being traded to Brooklyn, opening up about his standoff with the Philadelphia 76ers. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

Ben Simmons has made his first public comments since the end of last year's NBA playoffs in the wake of his trade to the Brooklyn Nets last week.

The Australian guard had refused to play for his former team, the Philadelphia 76ers, this season after requesting a trade following their disastrous playoff exit at the hands of Atlanta.

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The 25-year-old landed in Brooklyn thanks to a blockbuster trade which saw the 76ers pick up former MVP James Harden, in exchange for Simmons, Seth Curry and Andre Drummond.

Simmons hasn't played this season, having spent time away from the 76ers on mental health grounds.

After initially declaring he wouldn't return to practice for the pre-season, Simmons eventually did so but was kicked out of his first practice, an absence that eventually became permanent as he and his management became increasingly at odds with the 76ers.

After coming under significant pressure throughout the saga, Simmons opened up for the first time about his exit from Philadelphia and why he had been unwilling to take to the court.

Simmons said he had been through some 'dark days' after last year's playoffs, adding that it would still be some time before he made his debut for Brooklyn.

“I’ve had some dark times over the last six months and I’m just happy to be in this situation with this team and organisation,” he said.

“People are gonna say what they want. They’ve said it the last six months and I haven’t commented and it is what it is. People are always gonna have their own opinions.

“But I think just the way everybody’s welcomed me here has been great. It’s been a very positive experience, just being here so far. And I’m looking forward to what’s to come.”

Simmons later quipped that he'd 'be here all day' if he were to respond to all of the criticism he'd faced over the last few months.

If Simmons is back playing in time for this season's playoffs, he stands to be a crucial addition to the Nets, who are without former MVP Kevin Durant as he recovers from injury, while Kyrie Irving remains limited to playing in road games due to his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

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Simmons also revealed he had spoken to a few Sixers personnel since he was traded to the Nets, including wing player Tobias Harris, coach Doc Rivers and general manager Elton Brand - but former star teammate Joel Embiid was not among them.

Embiid and Rivers offered specific criticism of Simmons' reluctance to shoot in the wake of their game seven loss to the Hawks, a series in which Simmons' poor free throw percentage also came under the microscope.

Despite the criticism, Simmons attributed his absence to events in his 'personal life' outside of basketball.

“For me, it was just making sure mentally I was right to get out there and play,” Simmons said.

“So that’s something that I’ve been, dealing with. And it wasn’t about the fans or coaches or comments made by anybody; it was just a personal thing for me.

“It was a bunch of things I was dealing with as a person in my personal life that I don’t really want to go into depth with.

Ben Simmons joined his Brooklyn Nets teammates for their game against Sacramento this week, his first appearance at an NBA game this season. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Ben Simmons joined his Brooklyn Nets teammates for their game against Sacramento this week, his first appearance at an NBA game this season. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

“But I’m here now. So it’s a blessing to be in an organisation like this. And I’m just looking forward to getting back on the floor and doing something great here.”

With the Nets slipping down the Eastern Conference standings, fans will be hoping Simmons can get back on the court sooner rather than later.

The Nets are scheduled to take on Philadelphia on March 10, but Simmons replied 'I hope so' when asked if he would be back on court before then.

Still, Simmons said he wouldn't rush his preparation.

“I don’t have a date yet,” Simmons said.

“But I’m working towards getting back to the floor … I’m starting to ramp it up.”

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