'Never seen that': 76ers savaged over 'unconscionable' Ben Simmons act

Ben Simmons is seeing a mental health specialist provided by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Ben Simmons has agreed to see a mental health specialist provided by the 76ers, after the team fined him once again after he refused to detail his work with outside consultants. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

The Philadelphia 76ers have been criticised for their handling of Ben Simmons' absence, after the Australian star relented and saw a mental health specialist recommended by the team.

In the wake of the turbulent NBA off-season in which Simmons' request to be traded from the team never came to fruition, the 25-year-old's return to the team has been anything but smooth.

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After being fined for not attending training camp or pre-season games, Simmons returned to the team prior to the regular season beginning - but was kicked out of his second team practice and hasn't come back since.

Simmons has sought mental health treatment since, but initially declined to make use of specialists provided by the 76ers - instead preferring to use services provided by the NBA Players' Association.

After refusing to divulge details of his sessions with the NBAPA specialists, the 76ers once again fined the Australian former No.1 draft pick.

He has since agreed to meet with the team's specialist, but veteran NBA journalist Brian Windhorst described Philadelphia's actions as 'unconscionable'.

The ESPN reporter said that while Simmons' hadn't always done the right thing by the team either, it was unprecedented for a team to 'devalue' a player the way the 76ers had, and accused the team of questioning whether or not Simmons was indeed seeking treatment.

“I’m not so sure I’ve ever seen a player more devalued by his own team than Ben Simmons and it goes on to this day," Windhorst said in a podcast for Sportsnet, after describing that he'd learned soon after becoming involved in the NBA that no matter how poorly a player was viewed by their own team, that publicly criticising that player was the last thing you should do.

“What they’ve done since then has been unconscionable, the way they’ve devalued him.

"And I just don’t understand why a guy like (76ers GM) Daryl Morey, who’s one of the smartest guys in the league, would condone the over and over and over devaluing of this guy."

Philadelphia 76ers slammed over handling of Ben Simmons' mental health

Windhorst went on to say he had been left stunned by the 76ers' move to once again fine Simmons, saying the team was essentially suggesting he was 'faking' it.

"But the stuff that they have done to him and now basically questioning whether or not he has mental health problems — that’s essentially what they’re saying, they’re basically calling him a faker — I just can’t believe they’ve behaved this way," Windhorst said.

“Forget about what it is on an individual, personal basis — it’s just bad business.”

Though there had been questions about the fit between Simmons and Sixers co-star Joel Embiid on the court, the chemistry finally fell apart during last season's Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Having entered the playoffs as the top seed in the East, Philadelphia were upset in the second round by the Atlanta Hawks in seven games.

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)

An intense spotlight fell on Simmons' reluctance to shoot and inability to consistently hit free throws throughout the series.

The game seven loss to the Hawks arguably marked the beginning of the end for Simmons and the 76ers, with a key play in which Simmons passed out of an open layup subject to ongoing scrutiny.

The 25-year-old Australian had become the No.1 target for Sixers' fans derision and they came dressed to mock the absentee guard at the team's hope opener a few weeks ago.

The most popular was a form of a Mister Softee T-shirt with an ice cream swirl on Simmons' head.

Another fan dressed in a red clown wig and clown nose and taped "CLOWN" over his No.25 Simmons jersey. The parking lots found bootleg T-shirt sales of Simmons on a "MISSING" poster.

There has been little movement on a potential Simmons trade, with a rumour involving the Boston Celtics not gaining much traction.

With AAP

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