Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant both thought that Ben Simmons handled himself well in his return to Philadelphia. On Tuesday night, the Brooklyn Nets took on the Philadelphia 76ers on the road. Simmons, who had a messy split with the 76ers, played his first game in Philadelphia as a member of the Nets.
Simmons had a solid performance as he posted 11 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds but the Nets still suffered a 115-106 loss. Throughout the loss, Simmons faced the boos from the 76ers fans. "I think it is a mental hurdle that you have to get over.
He played extremely well a game ago and then came in tonight, I think he played well tonight. And we just got to be there for one another and support each other," Irving said of Simmons.
Irving, Durant on Simmons' return to Philadelphia
"There's a lot of emotions.
You just want to play well. We know the fans are going to be involved and get excited -- not get excited, but just bring their best. But that's in every arena. Everybody wants to see our team fail. Nobody likes Ben, nobody likes Ky, nobody likes myself, so it might be like that at every road arena.
So it's just something we got to deal with. But I thought [Simmons] did a great job of just handling it and playing his game, and we had chances to win, but we just didn't," Durant said of Simmons. In the summer of 2021, Simmons demanded a trade from the 76ers.
After realizing that there was no way Simmons would ever again play in Philadelphia, the 76ers traded Simmons to the Nets in 2022 February. When asked why the 76ers don't like Simmons nowadays, Durant answered. "I think they all just had a lot of great memories with Ben and they don't like how it ended.
They feel like they're part of the team, they're part of the league, so fans want to be heard. The last decade in the NBA a lot of fans have been heard with social and just how we highlight the fans nowadays. You got to appreciate both sides.
That's part of the game. I think Ben understands that. We all understand that. The fans really respect us as men, but there's a part of sports [that includes] heckling, being targeted out there. It's all a part of it," Durant explained.