Ben Simmons said in an interview published Thursday that he just wanted help during his time with the Philadelphia 76ers and that many in the organization did not support him as he struggled with his mental health.
“I was in such a bad place where I was like, f—, 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 it. I wanted, was help, ” Simmons told former Sixers teammate JJ Redick on “The Old Man and the Three.”
“I didn’t feel like I got it from the coaches, my teammates — I wouldn’t say all my teammates because there are great guys on this team who reached out and are still my friends — but I didn’t feel like I got it and that was for me just a hard place.”
Simmons, a three-time All-Star, was acquired by the Brooklyn Nets in February as part of a blockbuster deal that sent James Harden and Paul Millsap to the Sixers. Simmons did not play for either team in the 2021-22 season, having surgery on a back injury in April and had pushed for Philadelphia to be traded after the 2020-21 season.
In February, Simmons said he just didn’t feel like himself during his five seasons in Philadelphia.
He told Redick he tried to “do the right thing” before returning to the court before last season — after threatening to not play for the Sixers — but coach Doc Rivers pushed him out of practice. being a “rejecter” after Simmons repeatedly refused to participate in a drill. He was eventually punished for behavior detrimental to the team.
“I actually talked to Doc before practice. I said, ‘Doc, I’m not ready. Mentally I’m not ready. Please just understand,” Simmons said on the podcast. “I tried to let him know beforehand and he said, ‘Well, I’m going to put you in anyway.’ I’m like, “Okay.” He told me to come inside. I looked at him. It was like one minute in practice, like, “Ben, come in.”
“First of all, I don’t. for not lifting weights, but physically I’m one of the strongest guys on the f—-ing team. So now I’m getting fined for little things. It was just a build-up. Obviously I couldn’t handle things the right way, but neither did the team and the people who had that power.”
Simmons, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft and one of the league’s best guards, reached an agreement with the Sixers to receive a share of the nearly $20 million withheld from him, sources told ESPN in August.
“I don’t care about the money,” Simmons told Redick. “It’s not about money for me right now. I want peace and happiness. I want to be in a good place and if it costs me whatever it costs, then it will. My peace is more valuable than money.”
He is expected to be ready to start training camp with the Nets this month, joining new teammates Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
“It’s going to hurt. I can’t wait,” Simmons said on the podcast. “I’m so excited. I got a new number, a new jersey. I’m just looking forward to it. I think we have a special team. I think if we all come together, we’ll be champions. That’s the ultimate goal.”