In between, Simmons was publicly criticized for his breakout performance by 76ers star Joel Embiid and Coach Doc Rivers, and demanded a trade away from Philadelphia and a brief return to the team only to be expelled from pre-season practice. Then, during the 2021-22 season where he never got dressed, he reportedly told the team he had ongoing mental health issues.
In a lengthy interview on the “Old Man & the Three” podcast published Thursday, Simmons told co-host and former teammate J.J. Riddick, “It got to a point where, then, [Hawks] A chain – it’s like, from the people you’re supposed to get support from, or that comfort from, and I didn’t get that either, so it was a lot – it was a burden to me. Then mentally, you killed me. I was like, ‘[Expletive]Nothing can be done. I was in a dark place.”
Simmons then declared that he is “in a great place” and feels “comfortable talking about it now.”
“But those were some dark days for me,” he continued. “And in particular – everything is public. This is the craziest part. Everyone goes through different struggles, some bigger than others, but everyone has their own battles.
“And I think that was tough for me, just knowing I didn’t really get that support, either from my teammates or whatever it was at the time.”
During their discussion, Redick touched on a number of shared experiences, either as teammates for the Sixers, NBA players in general, or both who have dealt with back injuries. Now in his second year of retirement, the 38-year-old played for Simmons in the 2017-18 season, and Simmons was the first full-time player in the NBA after breaking his foot before the junior season, and in 2018-19.
On the podcast, Riddick told Simmons that while he loves Embiid and Doc Rivers, “They threw you under the bus after Game 7.” [against Atlanta]. This is indisputable.” Simmons agreed, emphasizing.
Riddick was referring to comments made by Embiid and Rivers after the loss to the Hawks, with the All-Star midfield stating that Dunk Simmons chose not to try late in the game as a “turning point” in the defeat, while the veteran coach expressed uncertainty about whether The Sixers could have competed for championships with Simmons as their starting guard.
During that streak, Simmons often appeared hesitant and, in particular, reluctant to shoot the ball. He scored a playoff low against Atlanta averaging 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds, and only fired 45 shots over the seven games, none of which were from a three-point range. His decision to pass the ball near the basket late in Game 7, when a spinning motion in the low mass seemed to be paving the way to the edge, drew criticism if not outright ridicule from outside Philadelphia.
Simmons joked with podcast hosts saying it was a “basket of a hundred points,” making the cynical case that the importance of not being overwhelmed by it was greatly exaggerated by the size of the Sixers’ loss.
The 26-year-old explained that after making his spin against Atlanta’s Danilo Gallinari, he thought Hawks goalkeeper Trae Young would come for the ball. Noting that his teammate Matisse Thiebolle is “athletic and can get up,” Simmons said his thought process was, “Okay, a quick pass, he’s going to get rid of it,” but he misjudged the spacing of the players involved.
Riddick delved into how Simmons might not have recognized the mismatch right away in Young’s play “Bang Bang,” but he went on to admit that “when it slows down, it looks really bad.”
Simmons agreed, “Yeah, it was horrible.” “When I look at it now, I think, ‘Man, punch that [expletive]But it didn’t happen. And I said, ‘Well, I can live with it.’
“I mean, everyone is trying to kill me because of one play. Like, does everyone want to watch the movie with me? Like the whole arena? I can dissect everything if you guys want. But that’s not realistic.”
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During that season, Simmons campaigned for the 76ers, but finished it in time to attend a pair of practice sessions in October shortly before the start of the 2021-22 regular season. Describing Rivers Simmons as a “distraction,” he told reporters he had kicked his main goalkeeper out of the second training session to “protect the team.” Simmons was subsequently suspended by Philadelphia for the inaugural season.
In the transcript of events Simmons shared in the podcast, he was trying to “do it right by my teammates…but I didn’t get involved in it.” [mental] place to play.”
“I actually spoke to Doc Rivers before training,” Simmons told Riddick. “I was, like, ‘Doctor, I’m not ready. Mentally, I’m not ready, please just understand. I tried to tell him beforehand. Then he said, “Okay, I’ll put you down anyway.” He asked me to enter. I looked at him. It was a minute into practice. Like, “You’re entering.” And I’m like, “First of all, nobody’s doing that, you’re doing it on purpose.” And that’s how it felt to me, like, ‘Okay, so it looks like everyone’s just trying it [expletive] with me now.'”
He continued, “Obviously I didn’t handle things the right way, but also, the team didn’t do it either, and the people who have that strength.”
Simmons added that “getting down to earth has been a priority, and I’ve been trying to get myself to a place where I’m mentally good to do that.”
He said, “I was in such a bad place, that I was like, ‘”[Expletive]I’m trying to get here, and you guys are throwing all this other stuff in my face where you’re not helping.
“And that’s all I wanted, was help. I didn’t feel like I received it from the coaches and my teammates – I wouldn’t say all my teammates, because there are great guys on this team who got in touch and they’re still my friends – but I didn’t feel like I understood it, and it was just a tough place. For me “.
Handed out to the Nets in an impressive package that sent James Harden to the 76ers, Simmons underwent back surgery. He didn’t say on Thursday if he would be fully physically ready to start next week’s Brooklyn training camp, but he made it clear that he feels in a much better place mentally and praised the Nets’ environment as “very calm”.
Simmons also expressed his delight to hit the field with his Brooklyn teammates, including Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
“You’re going to get sick. I can’t wait. I’m just looking forward to it,” Simmons said. “I think we have a special team. I think if we put it all together, we’d be the heroes. This is the ultimate goal.”