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  • Jason Regan

Simmons meets Sixers, future still unsure

Ben Simmons sat out the Philadelphia 76ers' home opener on Friday night for personal reasons and the franchise does not know when the three-time All-Star guard will return.

Simmons was suspended for the first game of the season for conduct detrimental to the team after coach Doc Rivers threw him out of practice for refusing to participate in a drill.

He returned Friday and addressed the team before the opener against Brooklyn.

Rivers said it was a "productive day" and hoped the meeting was a start toward bringing Simmons back into the fold.

"It still doesn't mean things will work out perfect, or it could," Rivers said. "I've always believed that. I've never wavered from that."

Simmons averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists over four seasons with Philadelphia, which drafted him No.1 in 2016 out of LSU, where he played only one season.

His defining moment as a Sixer came when he passed up a wide-open dunk against Atlanta in the second round of last year's playoffs that would have tied the game late in Game 7. Simmons took the blame for Philly's early postseason exit.

Tobias Harris said after Brooklyn beat the Sixers 114-109 teammates, fans and the entire organisation needed to respect Simmons' privacy and give him the space he needs until he decides to play again in the NBA.

"I think at this time, he needs more support than neglect," Harris said. 
"I think we've just got to be there for him as a team. I've relayed that to the group.
"And I hope that message is loud and clear to our fans and everybody around the organisation, and also you guys as well in the media."

Nets beat 76ers as fans turn on Simmons

The Brooklyn Nets rallied to get past the Philadelphia 76ers, whose fans turned on "missing" Australian star guard Ben Simmons.

Kevin Durant had 29 points, 15 rebounds and 12 assists to rally the Brooklyn Nets past the 76ers. They could have done with Simmons' defence to shut down a closing 16-1 charge from the Nets, who posted a 114-109 victory.

Boomer Patty Mills played 30 minutes for the Nets and had two rebounds, two assists and 11 points. Simmons has not played since his offseason trade demand. He met with the Sixers before the morning shootaround.

The 25-year-old Australian had become the No.1 target for Sixers' fans derision and they came dressed to mock the absentee guard. 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.

The Sixers did their best to defuse potential anti-Simmons chants - a Flyers game in the same building this week got profanely loud toward Simmons - by sending Embiid out to address the crowd.

Embiid thanked the fans for coming after having to stay home most of last season amid the pandemic and asked they support Simmons because "he's still our brother." 

The crowd listened and no sustained chants of any substance ever developed.


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