Ben Simmons Addresses The Media For The First Time Since 76ers Exit

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Philadelphia 76ers
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

After a difficult financial fight with the 76ers that involved fines for not participating with the team and an extended break from the NBA due to mental health problems, Ben Simmons is now a Brooklyn Net.

He addressed the media for the first time as a member of the Nets in almost a year on Tuesday.

“For me the mental health has nothing to do with the trade,” Simmons said. “It was a bunch of things that I was dealing with as a person in my personal life that I don’t really want to into depth about. But I’m here now,” Simmons stated.

The 25 year old has not played a game yet this season, but attended the Nets game last night to support his new teammates. In exchange for Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and two first-round selections, the Nets sent James Harden and Paul Millsap to the 76ers.

“It’s a blessing to be in an organization like this and I’m just looking forward to getting back on the floor and building something great here,” Simmons said of Brooklyn.

After the Sixers’ Game 7 defeat to the Hawks last season, Simmons believed that coach Doc Rivers and teammate Joel Embiid didn’t offer him enough public support. That feeling caused a further gap between the point guard and the club.

“It was just piled up. A bunch things over the years to where I just knew I wasn’t myself and I need to get back into the place of being myself and being happy as a person,” Simmons told the press. “It wasn’t about the basketball, it wasn’t about the money, anything like that. You know I wanna be who I am and playing basketball at that level and being myself.”

Whe Simmons was asked about he would say to people that questioned him, he answered, “They should be happy I’m smiling honestly. I’ve had some dark times these last six months and I’m just happy to be in this situation with this team and organization. People gonna say what they want. They’ve said in the last six months and I haven’t commented. It is what it is, people are always gonna have their own opinions.”

In early February, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne wrote an in-depth story on where Simmons and the Sixers were with each other, as well as a comprehensive timeline of how they got there. But, the report on how much money Simmons had been fined in the 2021-22 season was the news that really stood out.

Simmons was fined more than $19 millions dollars this season for not traveling or participating with the team.

Shelbourne wrote that since the start of the season, Simmons was fined $360,000 for every missed game. He hadn’t received a payment since Oct. 1, when he was owed $8.25 million, which was 25 percent of his $33 million salary.

Shelbourne said that instead of a $1.375 million payout, the team sent him a note every two weeks with an explanation of all the fines he had amassed for failing to deliver services.

A source close to Simmons told Shelbourne, “It’s hard for people to understand. But if you believe in what you’re doing and that this is not the right situation for you, and you’re trying to get to a better place, the money doesn’t matter. Obviously it’s a financial hit. But you adjust.”

The hold out turned out to be successful as Simmons was traded to the Nets last week.

Simmons mindset never changed through the whole process. When asked what went through his mind from the end of game seven up until the trade was announced, Simmons said, “That I needed to get into a good place mentally, honestly. That was the main thing.”