Ahead of Friday night’s home opener against the Nets, Joel Embiid addressed the crowd at the Center.
It is customary for a team leader to send a message to fans before the first game, thanking them for their continued support.
Embiid did, but also made sure to mention a member of his team who was not present.
“A lot has happened in the last few months,” said Embiid, “and I ask you to continue to support us and our teammate Ben [Simmons] because he is still our brother.
Unsurprisingly, he encountered slight hoots.
Without Simmons, the Sixers would lose abruptly to the Brooklyn Nets. They are now 1-1 on the young season with Simmons not participating in any of the contests. The three-time All-Star reported to the team, but still hasn’t played in the game.
He was suspended for the win over the Pelicans for conduct detrimental to the team after being ruled out of practice on Tuesday. Ahead of Friday’s shoot, Simmons addressed his teammates and told them he wasn’t “mentally ready” to play.
During his pre-game availability, Doc Rivers said it was “productive” and “a good start” for Simmons and the team mending their relationship.
Embiid agreed after the game.
“It was good,” Embiid said. ” Ultimately. It was the first time any of us heard it. I thought it was good for the band.
Tobias Harris echoed Embiid’s thoughts.
“It was good to hear from him,” said Harris. “I think it was very necessary for us as a group, and I think for him too. Being able to communicate with guys is very necessary. I think it’s a step in the right direction to bring it back and acclimatize with what we have here. “
At this point, both players, who are the team’s most prominent leaders, have once again said they would welcome Simmons when and if he wants to join the team.
“It’s the first step, it’s a step,” Embiid said. “As I always say, it’s on the front office. Hopefully they find what’s best for the team, because it’s a business. We are trying to find ways to win. And for us we have a great opportunity. And as I always say, we’re better off with him. I wouldn’t mind playing with him. I know my teammates wouldn’t either, because at the end of the day we’re just trying to win. “
Harris took a few minutes to really stand up for Simmons and ask people to recognize his teammate as a human being.
” For sure. I think this is obviously a good start. But, like I said, I think right now we have to respect his privacy, his space. We have to be there for him throughout what he is going through and his process. I think it’s easy to look at something on the surface and come up with speculation about a lot of things, especially (with) athletes. Usually in this space you are portrayed as superhumans and not really meant to have feelings or experience anything. So I think we really need to understand that he’s a human first. If he’s going through something, we have to respect that and we have to be there for him as a team, as an organization, fans – all the way down the line, because when he’s here to do a show and help us win, everyone applauds and praises. But we’re living in a ‘What have you been doing for me lately?’ kind of world. And when it doesn’t, it’s easy to turn around. I think right now he needs more support than neglect. I think we just have to be there for him as a team. I relayed this to the group and I hope this message will be loud and clear to our fans and everyone around the organization. And honestly, you too. As a media you have a job for guys too. And I understand the field that you are in, but you have to understand that we are talking about a person who has a family, who has emotions. He is also a great person. So we really have to respect and not do everything for the clicks – for the click bait. Understand that we are a team – Philadelphia 76ers, you guys, the media – we are a team. We win matches, it helps your job, makes your job easier. I think we also have to see this as a collective effort. “