In a wide-ranging interview with former teammate JJ Redick The old man and the three podcast, Ben Simmons explained why he requested an exchange from the Sixers before last season.
Simmons said that after his slump against the Atlanta Hawks in the 2021 Eastern Conference semi-finals, he was in a “dark place” mentally.
“I think it was like, you know, I’m already dealing with a lot mentally, only in life, like a lot of people do,” she said. “But we’ve gotten to a point where, after that series, I’m getting — it’s like, from the people you’re supposed to get support from, or, you know, that comfort. And I wasn’t understanding that either. So it was just a lot. It was a tribute to me. And then mentally, it killed me. I was like, f – k. Like, no energy at all. As if you were in a dark place “.
He added that it was “tough” for him knowing he “didn’t really have the support of teammates or anything at the time”.
“For me, I was trying, for myself, personally, to get to a good place,” he said. “Like, to get back to earth. So it was never even … getting ashore was my priority. And trying to take me to a place where I was mentally good at it. And I was in such a bad place where I was like, fuck, I’m trying to get here and you guys are throwing all these other things at me where you’re not helping. And that’s all I wanted was help. I didn’t feel like I got it from the coaches, from the teammates – I won’t say all the teammates, because there are great guys on that team who got in touch and who are still my friends – but I didn’t feel as if I understood, and it was just a difficult place for me.
Speaking of his stamina, which initially cost him up to $ 20 million, though he later recovered some of it after reaching a deal with the team, Simmons said he prioritized his mental well-being over his finances. .
“People were like, ‘Well, let’s get his money.’ And I’m like, ‘I’m not weaned … for the money.’ Like, I don’t care about money. It’s not about money for me now. For example, I want peace and happiness. Like, I want to be in a good place. And if it costs me whatever it costs, that’s what it costs. For example, I want to be in a good place. , my peace is more precious than money “.
Simmons also explained why he returned to the team after training camp retirement and what led to him being kicked out of practice.
“I was at least trying to do the right thing, “he said when Redick asked why he came back.” Like, do it right, you know, whatever the fuck, the team, my teammates, whatever. Whoever it is. But, trying to do the right thing. And I just wasn’t in that place to play. As if you weren’t. I couldn’t do it. And I, you know, being kicked out of that workout that day, actually talked to Doc before the workout. I’m like, ‘Doc, I’m not ready. Mentally, I’m not ready. Please understand. ‘ You know, I tried to let him know before. And he was like, ‘Well, I’ll put you in anyway.’ I’m like, ‘Okay.’ He told me to come in, I was like, I looked at him. It was like a minute of practice. “Ben, he comes in.” And I’m like, first of all, nobody is doing it. You’re doing it on purpose. And that’s how I felt too. I was like, so you … it seems like everyone is just trying to fuck me right now. For example, I get fined for, like, not lifting weights, but physically, I’m like one of the strongest guys on the f-king team. So now they’re fining me for little things, and it was just a build-up of — obviously I didn’t handle things right, but the team didn’t do it either. “
If this happened as described by Simmons, it’s not a great look for Rivers and the Sixers. However, that situation could help pave the way for positive change for players in the future.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association are “discussing measures to allow players to cite mental health issues such as physical injury-like help” in their ongoing negotiations on the next collective bargaining agreement. . “Similar to when players treat external injuries, this new addition would give players the ability to treat their mental health problems with the same severity, allowing for things like seeking a second opinion and visiting a psychiatrist.”
Redick also asked Simmons about his neglected dunk in Game 7 of the Hawks series.
“At the moment, I just went into a spin and I assume Trae will come faster,” said Simmons. “So I think he’s going to come full blown, and I see Matisse is going – you know, Matisse is athletic, he can get up – so I’m thinking, OK, quick pass. He has to empty it, not knowing how much space there was. It happened. It happened so fast that you just read. And in the playoffs, you have to make the right decisions most of the time. And for that moment, I mean, bro, it happened and I was like, ‘OK, f_k, now we have to go do another comedy.’ That’s how I’m thinking. Then I didn’t realize how, you know, everyone was posting … and I’m like, was it that big? “
However, he admitted that it “looks awful” in retrospect.
“When I look at it now, I think, ‘Dude, I should have punched that shit.’ But it didn’t happen, and I was fine with it. I can live with that. I can live with it — everyone is trying to kill me for a comedy, like, does everyone want to see a movie with me? How the whole arena? And I can dissect it all if you guys want.
On a lighter note, Simmons and Redick had a long and hilarious exchange about Trial being a success:
Simmons: Looking back now, I think the Process was … I mean, people see it as the Process of how, the team, Philadelphia that wins a championship, whatever that is. But I think for us, shit, we were going through the Process. Like, build Philadelphia. There was a time when no one wanted to play for Philly. It was like 10 and 72 games. And what we were able to do there was great. I feel like we’ve brought back a lot of life to the game of basketball in Philadelphia.
redick: Well, I think the overall Process thesis is like, we’re going to build through the draft. We will try to draft transcendent players. Historically you need one or two in the top five or two in the top 10 and -15 to win a championship. And you are not sure of winning a championship. So, if you pick a couple of those guys, and let’s be honest, they’ve lost a lot of choices. They have lost a lot of choices. And if you end up enlisting a couple of those guys, and you become a contender, and you become a place that free agents want to go, where the guys get swapped and they want to sign there again. And suddenly, there’s a culture and an environment where winning is really appreciated and you feel like you’re in it every year, like for me that means the process has worked. Do you agree with this?
Simmons: Yes I agree.
redick: Because I think everyone thinks the Trial hasn’t worked because they haven’t won yet.
Simmons: Yes, it’s not that you’re not sure of winning a championship.
redick: You don’t want to be in the middle. You don’t want to be in the middle. You don’t want to be what the Pacers have been doing for the past 20 years.
The whole episode deserves a listen. Kudos to Simmons for opening up like he did.
Unless otherwise stated, all statistics via NBA.com, PBP Statistics, Cleaning the glass or Reference to basketball. All salary information via spotrac or Real GM.