Ben Simmons’ discontent began with Joel Embiid’s rise to stardom

Not mental health. They were not mean words. At least not completely

“It has accumulated, a bunch of things that have happened over the years…

“A lot of things, internally, have happened over time.”

Humiliation. financial problems. loyalty. He lost his job twice in the playoffs.

That’s why Ben Simmons quit at the 76ers.

As he testified last week, Simmons left Philadelphia after years of perceived infidelity. Over the past four years, and with greater insurance over the past week, several league sources have painted a portrait of a paranoid, jealous young man, titled: Frustrated by his imperfections, angry that his limited style of play has drawn criticism, and too stubborn. That his refusal to accept the training led to debilitating fears entirely of his own making.

Simmons expected him to be the focal point of The Process, but with the franchise turning ever more toward Joel Embiid, he felt sidelined. Finally, after the playoff crash last June, Simmons decided he was no longer living in Philadelphia. Boycott the training camp. He skipped his first 54 games, unexcused absences and racked up nearly $21 million in fines, citing undisclosed and unchecked mental issues. Now, he is gone and replaced by James Harden.

And yes, there were hard feelings.

Simmons claimed last week, when he landed in Brooklyn, that it was more than just last year’s postseason drama that upset him at The Sixers. Instead, several seasons of resentment led to their divorce on the February 10 trading deadline. Four years of interviews with team and league sources suggest he is telling the truth.

Yes, coach Doc Rivers declined his endorsement and Embiid blamed him for his infamous Match 7 loss last season, but Simmons was already out the door. In fact, incredibly, he wasn’t absolutely right about everything.

Simmons and The Nets did not respond to a request for an interview regarding this story, but his statements last week indicate that he has never felt comfortable in Philly. His displeasure was building for an entire year before he dribbled a basketball in an NBA game.

In 2016, Sixers coach Brett Brown called Embiid “the jewel in the crown” in The Process, a controversial slash-and-burn rebuild that Sam Hinkie began in 2013. While a focus on Embiid has helped repair the Sixers brand tarnished by four years of loss Intentional, it also underestimated the rest of the assets acquired in the past three years — led by Simmons, who was the #1 overall pick in that year’s draft.

If the Embiid was the jewel in the crown, Simmons was an embellished one. A former Sixers executive said last week that Simmons left Day 1. Simmons has never played in an NBA game and, due to a foot injury, won’t play until the following season, but he did look forward to playing Robin in the 7-foot-tall Batman and 2.

But there was work to be done. Simmons won Rookie of the Year. Under the constant supervision of Brown – a family friend who trained Simmons’ father in Australia – Simmons shifted from power forward to base. He made his first All-Star team the following year. But he did not become the crown jewel.

Embiid had been envious for years.

“It’s a pity that having his own team and being a star was more important,” Embiid said the day after the trade.

Brown, who was sacked in 2020, declined to comment for this story. But everyone associated with The Sixers knows the truth about how Embiid’s rise as the “crown jewel” twisted Simmons’ ego.

“I think that’s what started it,” said an NBA source.

The phrase resurfaced in 2018, when the Sixers added Jimmy Butler a month after the season began. It reappeared when the Sixers traded for Tobias Harris in 2019. As the season progressed, Simmons’ relationships with Brown and Embiid began to subside.

That spring, north of the border, it got quite cold.

Simmons’ lack of a Ocean 76ers cost the 76ers a second-round playoff streak against the Celtics in 2018. Power forward Aron Baynes was simply standing at the free-throw line, arms spread, daring to fire Simmons. Simmons refused. As the series progressed, the Sixers leaned on TJ McConnell, whose entry into the starting lineup in Game 4 knocked Simmons off point, pricking him to no end.

A year later, again in the second round, the Raptors used a similar strategy. Butler, Harris, and Embiid formed a powerful attack, but Simmons still didn’t fire, paralyzing the team’s attack on half-court.

Desperate, Brown gave Butler the ball to start half-court attack combos and moved Simmons from point guard to power forward. It worked. The Sixers took the Raptors, the ultimate NBA champion, to Game 7.

Simmons was angry. showed. Every night.

A small visitor locker room at the ScotiaBank Arena in Toronto gives players nowhere to hide. As such, before each Eastern Conference 2019 semi-final match, most players appeared in their lockers for between 15 and 30 minutes. Journalists are allowed to hang out and give interviews. I used to hang out every night.

Simmons usually finished his pre-workout long before Butler and Embiid. This put Simmons in the locker room without Butler and Embiid for several minutes. Simmons owned the room in their absence. He told jokes. act of harassment. It was an alpha dog.

Then Jimmy and Joel came along, and Simmons turned tail. Embiid ordered an entire wall of cupboards to the right of the entry door. Everyone retreated to him, except for Butler. The place was very quiet, and when anything was said, it was usually said by Butler. With the butler in the room, Simmons nearly disappeared.

“This dynamic is subtle,” a former Sixers employee confirmed.

“It was like that for most of the second half of the season,” another said.

Simmons played hard, Embiid and Butler did, but they sank a quadruple miracle. With the arrival of the offseason, the Copper Sixers met and wrestled with a tough choice.

Should they extend Simmons’ contract, 22, who was already a defensive figure, with an unlimited cap?

Or should they extend Butler, a disgruntled 30-year-old making his way out of Chicago, then Minnesota, and then, landing in Philly, feuding first with Embiid, then Simmons, and never having treated Brown with respect?

Neither of them finished Joel’s game,” said a former Sixers executive.

But Simmons had potential.

The Sixers traded Butler in a four-team deal. They then signed Simmons to a five-year contract extension worth a maximum of $170 million in July.

The seasons were… strange.

General Manager Brian Colangelo was forced to resign in 2018 after a story accused him of using firebranded Twitter accounts to criticize Sixers players. Brown ran that draft, which saw the team pick up promising Villanova star Michael Bridges, then trade him 38 minutes later to Phoenix, where he became a rising star. Elton Brand, a G League general manager with one year of experience, helped Brown that year reshape the team by trading for Butler, and then the following season, adding free agent Al Horford in hopes of winning with the “Bully Ball”.

Simmons watched everything – with diminished confidence, he told those close to him. I showed.

He routinely ignored Brown’s instructions in court. He relied more and more on the instructions of his brother, Liam, who had hired him as a shooting coach, and also, as a kind of butler, the previous season. Liam even took road trips with the Sixers. Simmons shot 2 of 13 three-pointers in those two seasons.

Don’t hire Liam, guys.

Knee and back injuries cost him the second half of the 2019-20 season, but the dismissal of Brown and the arrival of Rivers and general manager Daryl Morey ahead of the 2020-21 season added to Simmons’ energy. Murray blocked shooters Seth Curry and Danny Green to reduce pressure on Simmons to shoot, Embiid developed into the MVP nominee, Simmons made a third consecutive All-Star team, and the Sixers reached the second round of the playoffs again, this time against a squad of the Toothless Falcons.

But Simmons It took Only three shots in the fourth seven of that streak fired 33.3% of the free-throw streak, and in front of a home crowd, refused a dunk late in Game 7, which the Sixers lost.

Simmons was criticized by social media analysts and the National Basketball Association. Nobody had his back.

» Read more: Shaq, Magic, and Charles agree. Ben Simmons can never show his face in the Sixers’ locker room again. | Marcus Hayes

When asked after the game if Simmons could lead a team to a title as a starting goalkeeper, Rivers replied, “I don’t know the answer to that question right now.”

When asked after the match what the turning point in Game 7 was, Embiid indicated that Simmons hadn’t paid off. For now, on the field, Embiid responded to Simmons’ refusal to dunk with indignation.

These issues – fan outrage, analyst criticism, lack of support from Doc and Jo – these were the straws that broke Simmons’ back…right? It was these words and reactions that caused such anxiety that he could no longer play… right?

apparently not.

It wasn’t about the fans or the coaches or the comments anyone made,” Simmons said.

At least, it wasn’t just those issues.

“I got to a place that I don’t think was good for me, mentally.”

It took Simmons five years in Philly to get to that spot, not just five minutes after the most painful playoff loss in decades.