The closing moments of last season’s Eastern Conference Semis between the Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks are still nothing short of mind-boggling. And Ben Simmons is ultimately the biggest reason why.
Trailing 88-86 with just over three minutes left in the game, Simmons had a wide-open dunk opportunity. For some inexplicable reason, he instead passed it up to Matisse Thybulle who was swarmed by two Hawks defenders and fouled. Thybulle went one-of-two from the free-throw line and the Hawks, of course, went onto win the game.
Simmons’ decisions wasn’t the reason the 76ers lost. But it certainly called into question his insecurities surrounding his own skill-set. A new report suggest several 76ers speculated Simmons tried to get out of playing in Game 7 all together.
Simmons was reportedly held out of the team’s shootaround ahead of Game 7 because of a potential COVID-19 exposure. But according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, several members of the organization believed he was just trying to get out of playing the game.
Simmons was being held out of the team’s shootaround, he told them, due to a possible exposure to a team masseuse, who’d returned an inconclusive COVID-19 test. Several players were questioned about whether they’d seen her that morning, but only Simmons said that he had. “He answered the question honestly, without thinking of the implications,” says one source close to Simmons. But according to multiple sources, many within the team questioned whether Simmons had actually seen the masseuse — or was just trying to get out of playing as he battled the basketball version of the yips.
Report: Some 76ers suspected Ben Simmons faked potential coronavirus exposure to dodge Game 7 vs. Hawks https://t.co/RKrd4vW6Tq
— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) October 15, 2021
This is a pretty complicated situation and a wild accusation, to say the least.
It’s very plausible Ben Simmons simply didn’t want to expose the virus to his teammates. It’s also plausible he was experiencing a major case of the “yips.” We’ll probably never know.
The reality is Simmons has insecurities surrounding his own style play. And it’s a big reason why he reportedly wants a fresh start elsewhere.
This entire ordeal involving Simmons and the 76ers is nothing short of ugly. And we can’t imagine how it ends well.
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