Ben Simmons is telling his side of the Oct. 19, 2021 76ers practice, which saw him get kicked out by coach Doc Rivers.
The incident — which saw the Aussie star get a one-game suspension — came after an offseason of tumult between the player and team. The saga continued through the NBA trade deadline, when Simmons was dealt to the Nets.
“I was trying to do the right thing and I just was not in that place to play,” Simmons said on “The Old Man and the Three” podcast. “I just couldn’t do it… I actually spoke to Doc before practice. I was like, ‘Doc, I’m not ready mentally. I’m not ready. Please just understand that.’ And he’s like, ‘Well, I’m gonna put you in any way.’”
Simmons said that “just one minute into practice,” Doc told him to get in, to get on the court and practice.
“I’m getting fined for not lifting weights but physically I’m one of the strongest guys on the team,” he said. “Obviously, I didn’t handle things the right way but also the team didn’t either.”
Under a clip posted on the podcast’s Instagram account, listeners chimed in.
“It’s interesting…we (as a society) say that we support mental health, but when someone expresses and comments on a situation in which their mental health was compromised, people make fun of him,” one commenter wrote. “I’m glad he spoke up about it, took accountability for his part, and ultimately did what’s best for him.”
That caused Austin Rivers, son of the Sixers coach and a Denver Nuggets guard, to jump into the fray.
“Bro you actually believe this dude?” he replied. “If y’all only knew…”
The younger Rivers, a former Knick, was not on the Sixers and has never been a teammate of Simmons’.
Simmons said it was a buildup of how both he and the team didn’t handle things the right way. Ultimately, he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets as a part of the trade that landed Philadelphia James Harden and hasn’t yet checked into action as a member of the Nets.