Philadelphia fans are known to hold a grudge. That personality trait was on full display Saturday when old friend Ben Simmons made another return to the City of Brotherly Love with the Brooklyn Nets.
Making his third trip to the Wells Fargo Center since a 2022 trade to the Nets, Simmons checked into Saturday’s game in the first quarter to a chorus of boos from the Philly faithful.
Even if Sixers fans have had two prior opportunities to serenade Simmons with unpleasant jeers, they haven’t forgotten the four disappointing seasons during his tenure with the franchise. Selected No. 1 overall in the 2016 NBA Draft, Simmons never lived up to expectations, ultimately leading to a deal with the Nets which sent James Harden to Philly.
Back issues that have plagued Simmons throughout his NBA career, keeping him out of action for roughly three months this season. He returned to the floor on Jan. 29 against the Utah Jazz before again showing up on the Nets injury report and missing the team’s following matchup against the Phoenix Suns.
Regardless, Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn was thrilled to see Simmons return to the lineup, noting how he changed the “overall scope” of the team after recording 10 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds in 18 minutes for Brooklyn in a 147-114 win over the Jazz.
“It’s a great chance for him to get back out with his teammates,” Vaugh said before the game. “So, I’m happy that he’s playing and that he was able to respond to treatment and be ready for today’s game.”